New York Yankees: How serious is the beard ban?

Beard Ban in full effect

It may not be news to you that the New York Yankees have banned the growth of facial hair on the team. This ban came about in 1973 and was started by George Steinbrenner and has been around ever since.

Fear the beard

Brian Wilson says no to the Yankees and yes to his beard.

This is the opposite of their rival Boston Red Sox, who allow and support the full and extensive growth of beards. I’m sure you’ve seen the 2013 World Series t-shirts that depict some of the Red Sox players’ greatest beards with slogans like “Fear the Beard” and “Boston Beards”. However the Yankees general manager Brian Cashman states that the team has no interest in allowing facial hair and won’t settle for players who refuse to shave. In early November, 2013 the team lost possible players including Brian Wilson who said “the beard stays” and chose his beard over the New York Yankees. Cashman’s response? “Cross him off our list!”.

Beard Ban represents “American Yankee” image

The Yankees beard ban is seen as one of the last remaining teams to represent the “American idea” of how a man should be groomed in sports. I recently read an article (a little late I know) about one reporter’s thoughts and feelings on the beard ban in New York and if it is costing the team some serious potential talent.

You can read it here:

Granted, the idea of clean shaven athletes with well groomed hair is an attractive one, but I’m not sure I’m the first in line to defend the Yankees on this ban. I would like to assume that these preventative measures help form a more unified team, but is the ban a serious one? Cashman says yes, and that the ban isn’t being lifted…at least not right now- even after the death of the late Steinbrenner.

A post on from 2013 claims the need for the Yankees to “modernize their facial hair policy” and goes on the exclaim that many notable players including Johnny Damon and Kevin Youkilis were asked to shave beards that “rivaled most primitive cavemen” when they signed with the Yankees in order to rep the world renown pinstripes of New York.

Beard Ban Loopholes

However serious the beard ban is in New York there is no clear issue with the team growing mustaches, and several players have done just that. In the article mentioned above ( Kevin Youkilis opted to keep his mustache but complied with the Yankees beard rule when he signed for New York. This is just one of many well known Yankees, past and present, rocking a mustache. Others include Wade Boggs, David Wells and the “interesting” ‘stache that Jason Giambi was seen with.

Beard Ban

Don Mattingly and his mustache

1977 Yankees outrage

In 1977 Steinbrenner was livid to learn of Thurman Munsons’ decision to grow a beard when the Yankees hit the road for a few away games. Eventually he shaved the beard off but other players in history put up a fuss and faced the ultimatum of shave or don’t play.

Many players and fans see the ban as oldschool, or even a tad bit ridiculous, but maybe at this point the idea is to honor the idea that the Yankees represent “true American baseball” and will continue to do so by keeping the team clean shaven…. at least below the lower lip.

  • Loulu

    Most jobs have some kind of dress code. If player want to play for the Yankees and earn Yankee money, then they’ll comply
    I think it makes the Yankees look more respectable. If the Yankees worked for Goldman Sachs would anyone be railing against the beard ban. When was the last time a banker had a beard?

  • DH-8

    I’d tell the yankees to suck my balls!! It’s my hair and I’ll do what I want with it! If I was good enough to play for them then that means I’m good enough to play for the Red Sox. FEAR THE BEARD!!!!!!!

  • sitcomlover

    It’s a stupid rule. Nothing wrong with most beards. I’d rather ban shaved heads, crew cuts or idiotic looking tattoo’s, but I really wouldn’t do it. Especially in NY, where anything goes. This was one of Steinbrenner’s many idiotic decisions. It’s pretty embarrassing when a number of presidents had beards (Lincoln, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Harrison). I’m a Yankees fan for 50 years this season and I find it ridiculous. I’ve been clean shaven, had a moustache, beard and goatee at various times and I hate to admit it, but the Sox and most teams have it over the Yankees on this one!

    • Kymbrye Temple

      Its not the most ideal rule, but it has it’s upsides too! Thanks for your comment.

  • David Earle

    Can;t argue with tradition and “professional” looks, it has worked in the past and hopefully future. This beard ban coupled with no names on the jerseys just goes to show it is all about what is on the front of the jersey, not inside it. God bless the boys from South Bronx.

    • Kymbrye Temple

      I agree. The game is not about who looks like what, but keeping a sense of “unity” in the team by prohibiting certain features helps to keep the team’s “family” and “American” vibe. It keeps the boys in pin stripes from feeling left out or different, and it allows the sport to be about the sport and talent, not about who does what with their body.