At the turn of the 20th century, the majority of baseball players sported mustaches. But by the 1930s, the trimmers came out, and a fuzzy upper lip was prohibited, not explicitly, but rather via an unwritten rule of conduct, in the major leagues. The idea was to make the game more appealing to families, by keeping the boys clean-shaven and well groomed—and a shift in social etiquette, which mandated that decent men be clean-shaved, reinforced the move away from mustachioed players. Baseball players would remain clean-shaven for several decades, until 1972, when a mustachioed Reggie Jackson arrived at spring training with the Oakland A’s. The look wasn’t a hit with his fellow teammates, but their manager embraced it: He offered each player $300 to grow his own ’stache.
In the 1970s, facial hair represented a burgeoning counterculture, and the move by the Oakland A’s was a controversial one: still, almost all of the team grew their mustaches out for the bonus, earning the team the nickname “The Mustache Gang.” The ensuing years were a confusing time for baseball facial hair—individual clubs, like the Brewers and the Blue Jays, issued explicit bans on facial hair within their clubs, while other clubs embraced players with full heads and faces of hair (the afro was big during this time).
Since the late 70s, baseball has seen a number of mustachio-clad players on the diamond. Recently released statistics on the last decade of All-Star Games reveal that those with facial hair actually outperform their clean-shaven counterparts. But even if the mustache doesn’t make the man, it sure makes the man memorable. Here are 25 of the most memorable mustaches in baseball history.
Harry Wright assembled and played center field for baseball’s first professional team, the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. He played for seven years, ending his career with the Boston Red Caps. He turned baseball into a business, paying his players up to seven times the salary of the average working man. Wright sported a tough-looking double-decker beard that turned white at the ends.