By George, put Steinbrenner in charge of baseball dress code police
By Bill Valyo
December 30, 2005
There is only one conclusion that can be reached after George Steinbrenner, the owner of the New York Yankees, made Johnny Damon get rid of his beard and long hair before he becomes part of the again new New York Yankees lineup — make him head up the dress code committee for Major League Baseball. Steinbrenner has not been one of my favorite baseball owners. He interferes much too much with the manager. What he does do right, however, is make sure that his team looks good on and off the field.
Baseball players have become sloppy over the years. With all the money the make (yes, I will add this much used phrase), you would think that they could afford a haircut and a shave.
Most teams in the majors are poor examples for the cities they represent. City officials should put in a clause in the contracts they sign with owners when money for a new stadium are bantered about. It should read "we will give you the money, provided that your ballplayers get haircuts and beards removed" and that they set a fine example on and off the field.
Social fashion trends have molded the attitudes of ballplayers throughout the years. It seems that long hair, moustaches, beards, sideburns and goatees are common in lineups today.
In the late 60s and 70s, baseball dress on the field was conservative. Facial hair was out during this period. I remember when Dick Allen, the powerful first baseman, came to Philadelphial sporting a moustache and beard in the 70s. My loyalty to the team took a dip during his tenure with the Phillies.
It was the Cincinnati Reds who tried to enforce a dress code. Long hair was off-limits to the Reds. It was reported that Sparky Anderson, the manager at the time, told Pete Rose to ditch the Van Dyke beard when he showed up at spring training.
When the Reds met the Oakland Athletics in the 1972 World Series, writers dubbed the meeting as "Hair versus Square."
The Athletics were the first team to encourage the growing of beards and mustaches, when their quirky owner Charlie O. Finley promoted a scheme and offered each player a $300 bonus to grow a mustache by the time the team photo was taken.
It also was reported that Yankees Dave Winfield, Reggie Jackson and Thurman Munson grew beards in the off season to upset Steinbrenner when contracts were being bargained. In 1976, The Boss had the Yankee Yearbook scrapped because several players were wearing long hair. He even benched Don Mattingly for refusing to have his hair cut.
Handling the dress code for the Major League is right up George's alley. He would put back the lack of class that baseball players have brought to the game.
And while he's at it, there should be a decree issued that all players wear their pants so that there would be at least 10 inches of sock showing. Now that's class!