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Over the years, popular styles for baseball players have changed quite a bit. Players have changed how they wear their socks, how they style their hair, and how much of their personality they show off on the field through accessories like jewelry and personalized shoes.
Facial hair is another way players can express their personal style on the field. In modern day Major League Baseball, many players have long, full beards. With that in mind, you might be wondering exactly why baseball players have beards now?
There are many reasons why today’s baseball players have beards, but the main reason is simply that beards are in style and they are allowed to grow them. For a long time, there were social customs (and sometimes official rules) prohibiting baseball players from growing facial hair. Now that there are fewer such norms and restrictions, players have more freedom to grow whatever beard they would like.
Here, without further ado, is an extensive list of the most common reasons why so many current MLB players grow out their beards.
1. Beards Are In Style Again
In the early days of baseball, facial hair was quite commonplace. Mustaches were common in the late 19th century and early 20th century, although beards were not. By the early-to-mid 1900s, baseball players largely stopped sporting facial hair at all.
For most of the twentieth century, there were no official rules about beards in Major League Baseball. Players simply did not have facial hair because it was not in style or was not considered a respectable look for a professional baseball player.
One reason so many baseball players have beards now is because beards are a more popular style these days. While some people may still disapprove of baseball players with facial hair, most players, coaches, and fans do not have a problem with beards any more.
2. There Are Fewer Rules About Beards These Days
In the past, there have been some very strict rules about facial hair in Major League Baseball. Each team is allowed to enforce their own restrictions over how players present themselves on the field, and this can include rules about hair length, sideburns, beards, and mustaches.
The New York Yankees were the first team to establish an official hair and facial hair policy. Owner George Steinbrenner did not approve of players with long hair or beards of any kind. The policy became official in 1976.
Some other teams, including the Cincinnati Reds and the Miami Marlins, have implemented similar policies over the years. However, in the present day, the Yankees are the only team to still enforce such a policy.
3. Playoff Beards Are a Popular Trend in Baseball
While New York Yankees players are not allowed to sport beards during the regular season, they are allowed to grow them out during the postseason. Indeed, many baseball players like to grow out their facial hair during the postseason, in what is known as “growing a playoff beard.”
The concept of the playoff beard is most common in hockey, but the practice has been adopted by baseball players in recent years. In addition to the Yankees, the Boston Red Sox famously grew playoff beards during their World Series run in 2013.
4. Beards Can Help a Player Build a Personal Brand
Professional athletes are often looking for ways to stand out from the pack and develop a unique persona with fans. One way players do this is through their appearance.
For example, World Series champion closer Brian Wilson sported a long, well-kept black beard throughout most of his career. He was nicknamed “The Beard” and his teams even sold t-shirts featuring drawings of his facial hair.
Wilson’s beard became an important part of his image as a ballplayer, and he landed several high-profile commercial deals because of his distinctive look.
Other MLB players with very recognizable beards include All-Star outfielder Charlie Blackmon and Cy Young-winning pitcher Dallas Keuchel.
5. It’s More Comfortable For Baseball Players To Have Beards Than Many Other Athletes
Beards are perhaps more common in ice hockey than any other sport. This makes sense, because ice hockey is played in a colder environment.
Beards are quite rare in professional basketball and soccer, because players have to run around so much, and they usually get very hot and sweaty. A beard could quickly become very uncomfortable for those athletes.
Baseball is played outdoors during the hotter months of the year, but the players do not run nearly as much as in other sports. For this reason, beards are more comfortable for baseball players than many other athletes. This is one more reason why beards are so common in baseball these days.
When Were Mustaches Common in Baseball?
When baseball first began in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it was very common for players to sport mustaches. However, mustaches fell out of fashion in the early-to-mid 1900s, and for several decades no baseball players grew mustaches.
In the early 1970s, more players began growing out their mustaches again, inspired by star outfielders Dick Allen and Reggie Jackson.
Mustaches are no longer as common, simply because they are not a very popular style these days. However, Yankees players are sometimes seen with well-trimmed mustaches, because that is the only facial hair they are allowed to grow.
What Is the Yankees Beard Policy
According to the Yankees’ official policy: “All players, coaches and male executives are forbidden to display any facial hair other than mustaches and scalp hair may not be grown below the collar. Long sideburns and ‘mutton chops’ are not specifically banned.”
This policy is called the “Neatness Counts” policy. In recent years, the policy was amended to exclude Yankees employees who grow their hair and beard for religious reasons.
What Is the Official MLB Beard Policy?
Contrary to popular belief, Major League Baseball has never had an official beard or facial hair policy. It is up to each individual team what rules about appearance they will enforce.