The definitive categorization of post-Yankee beards


I love it, without the uniform. (MLB GIFs)

Matt is on leave this week, so instead of his Sunday column, here is my thesis on Yankee beards.

Since the early days of George Steinbrenner’s tenure as owner of the Yankees, the Bombers have had a strict facial hair policy. Yes to mustaches, absolutely not to beards or excessively long hair.

Would I love to see the Yankees practicing the scruffy art of sloppy or even thinning beards? Sure. But the contrast of the bearded bombers gives us the opportunity to study the evolution of the players, one follicle at a time.

If anyone is drafted by the Yankees out of high school or signs with the team on July 2 as an international free agency, that player is joining the organization long before their heyday as a beard grower. Therefore, for much of their adult life, they are deprived of the opportunity to grow fun, long, and sometimes hilarious facial hair except during the offseason.

When players leave the Yankees, especially local talent, each player immediately throws in their razor. OK, maybe not literally, but almost everyone grows a beard soon after leaving the Bronx. Some do well and some… well, they’re not that good.

For a breakdown, here’s an unnecessary categorization of Yankee beards.

The standard off-season beard aka the CC

The most common beard you see in a Yankees player is the offseason beard. Without responsibilities to the team, players can go wild from November through February with shaggy appearances.

There is an undisputed champion in this category; CC Sabathia leads the Yankees in Offseason Bears Above Replacement. As he talked about on R2C2, he even mastered the seasonal beard after learning at the feet of master, Andy Pettitte, finding ways to leave some growth in between starts. As he is now retired, he was quick to restart the process.

Let’s take a look at this offseason work from 2014:

This, my friends, is a master at work. CC tested, LeBron approved.

Sabathia hasn’t always had the best beards, but he’s always on the court at basketball games ready to show off the new look. Greet.

The In-Uniform Offseason Beard aka The Bernie

Bernie Williams takes the cake here. First, his appearance on Seinfeld:

You know the Yankees are either in a streak of rest days or in the offseason because Bernie is shaking the goatee. Considering the show that aired in November, this is probably the latter.

However, Williams was not finished. Six years later, he took part in the MLB trip to Japan and played against Koji Uehara, among others. Most notably, he sported an evil goatee again, this time with full Yankees stripes. We must bow to this blatant display of mustaches.

The Post-Yankee Medium Beard aka The Hughes

For most players, this is a right of way. You play for the Yankees for a while and shave every day. Once you leave the Bronx you want to see what you can do. Most players don’t abuse this new power and create a beautiful look.

Example: Phil Hughes

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It’s not perfect, but it’s a big push on baby-faced Hughes to blend in with the grown-up world of Minneapolis. I dare say he’s doing it.

Example II: David Robertson and Melky Cabrera

This is… This is the Wrong Place! I didn’t want to see David Robertson with a beard, so now you have to do that too. He made the effort, but he was supposed to be clean shaven. (Melky’s beard looks good on him. Don’t @ me.)

Robertson has since tried to hide all evidence of his bearded days with his glove.

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Example III: Ian Kennedy

Kennedy appears in a later (and lesser) category, but after years of trying, he’s mastered the post-Yankee beard. We salute you, IPK. Save the big three. 10/10

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The canoe

Sometimes there are visionaries in a field. Someone who instantly knows their true calling and makes progress that others just can’t. It’s Robinson Cano with a beard without a mustache. He brought it out during his introductory press conference. It was the confidence he had in him.

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Years later, he was still there. He has since gone in new innovative hair directions (Check her Instagram), but he’s a single player in the post-Yankee beard space. No one else succeeds.

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Going Too Hard aka The Joba

All the energy Joba put into expressive fist pumps early in her career was later to hide her chin and neck with hair.

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Look, Joba was great. He’s a World Series champion and he was about as much fun as you could see as an intermediate reliever. That being said, he did some follicular madness. Chamberlain appears to have spent 10 years at sea on a crab fishing expedition and barely lived to tell the tale. It took the post-Yankee beard beyond the line.

As promised, here is Kennedy doing the same in San Diego.

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Once a Yankee, always a Yankee (The Tino)

Almost everyone grows a Yankee beard. Not Tino Martinez. Never Tino.

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Maybe he couldn’t get out of it. Maybe he knew not to spoil his good looks, even wearing a Cardinals or Devil Rays uniform.

Joe Girardi has also remained steadfast in his clean shaven look. This is what you want.

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Extra: The pre-Yankee beard!

There are a few players who have gone hard on a beard before coming to the Bronx. The most famous, of course, is Johnny Damon. As a member of the 2004 Red Sox, he had long hair on every square inch of his head.

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He never really pushed him away after leaving the Yankees, sporting only the sometimes average beard of a normal human.

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However, let’s check out the work of a certain Jonathan Holder. He was drafted by the Yankees but out of college. While in the state of Mississippi, Holder, aka Kenny Powers, clearly viewed grooming as an optional activity for everyone.

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Here is an even better look. If Holder had gone to another organization, he would have had the chance to shine as a cult hero for his shaggy hair. In the Bronx, he’s like everyone else.



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