Baseball Beards – More than Superstition
As a baseball fan, Stan would be all over the post-season. Twelve-year-old Stan is a huge New York Yankees fan – what 12-year-old who lives East of Kansas isn’t? He and his buddy are thrilled to meet two members of the Yankees’ Double A team, the Albany-Colonie Yankees: Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada. He still roots for the Yankees as an adult, but he’s not an uberfan. For instance, he’s not irritated by Mets fans and merely raises an eyebrow when the Yankees miss the playoffs in 2008.
Stan played baseball in prep school, and at one point thought about pursing a professional career in the game. On his way home from his round-the-word trek, he stops in Houston and tours Minute Maid Park. It’s during that stop that we learn why he gave up on baseball, and instead fell into a Wall Street job he never much liked.
As I write this post, I’m watching my home team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, trying to even the NLDS (National League Division Series) with the Dodgers, who lead the series 1-0. The Washington Nationals just finished up a come-from-behind win over the Cubs. As much as I’ve always loved baseball, I haven’t been following it much these last five or six years. No particular reason – just other things taking priority. So as I’m watching these games, I’m particularly struck by the number of players with everything from a mild hipster beard to the full-blown hippie thing going on.
That ever-reliable resource Wikipedia tells us, “A playoff beard is the superstitious practice of male athletes not shaving their beards during the playoffs. Playoff beards were introduced by ice hockey players participating in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and are now a tradition in many sports leagues.” But it seems, these days, there’s more at work regarding beards in baseball than superstition. At the start of Spring Training last year, Sports Illustrated did a story titled “The 2016 guide to baseball’s finest facial hair.” And not everybody thinks favorably of these furry faces. Back in March 2015, USA Today did a piece titled, “The face of baseball is entirely obscured by its beard.”
Personally, I think they look pretty scruffy. My husband has a well manicured beard that his grandmother hated. She was of the era when the only way to look presentable was to be clean-shaven. Whenever she would nag him about his beard, I would defend him, telling her, I think he looks quite handsome.”
So Stan starts off as one of Grandma’s clean-shaven gentlemen. However, as he travels the world, he looks to lighten his load and make things easier, so he grows his hair long and has a beard he tends every now and then by the time he makes it home. But he has a reason. Other than macho posturing, I’m not really sure what these ballplayers are thinking.
What are your thoughts on beards? Yea or nay? Does it matter if they’re busy or well trimmed? Give us your thoughts in the comments section.
Laura’s first novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World is forthcoming in early 2018. Watch here for updates – and prepurchase your signed copy here.