If you’re a Yankees fan, or just a baseball fan generally, you probably know about the Yankees’ facial hair policy—an edict so famous it has its own Wikipedia page.
Its origins lie with (who else?) George Steinbrenner, and the policy was enacted as one of the Boss’ first acts as team owner.
At Yankee Stadium’s home opening game on April 11, 1973, the new owner and managing general partner, George M. Steinbrenner III was on-hand to see his team. As he watched his players line up along the foul lines and remove their caps for the national anthem, Steinbrenner pulled out an envelope from his suit pocket. He began writing down a series of numbers on the back of the envelope.
After the game the envelope was given to manager Ralph Houk.
“What is this?” Houk wanted to know.
Players who need a haircut was the reply.
Still not knowing any of his players names, Steinbrenner had listed the players numbers who had hair that was not to his liking. Among the stars on the list were Bobby Murcer, Fritz Peterson, Thurman Munson, Sparky Lyle and Roy White.
The policy itself states thusly:
“All players, coaches and male executives are forbidden to display any facial hair other than mustaches (except for religious reasons), and scalp hair may not be grown below the collar. Long sideburns and “mutton chops” are not specifically banned.”
But seventies’ nostalgia aside, the policy has been widely derided for some time, with calls for its abolition interspersed with satire. Lou Piniella famously challenged the policy with Steinbrenner, to amusing effect.