10 Players Who Should Have Never Been New York Yankees
Many things come to mind when one thinks of the New York Yankees: money, winning, pinstripes, and the subject of this article, their appearance policy.
Started in 1973 by legendary owner George Steinbrenner, the policy states, “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.”
Over the years, many players renowned for their appearance have fallen victim to the Yankee code, looking drastically out of place and leaving baseball fans confused.
Who are some of those players you ask? Here are ten who should have never been Yankees.
McCutchen parted ways with his dreadlocks prior to his arrival in New York. However, the former MVP was none too pleased about having to go clean-shaven for the first time in his MLB career. McCutchen said about the policy, “I definitely do think it takes away from our individualism as players and people. We express ourselves in different ways…I feel like maybe there should be some change there in the future.” Many people likely agree with that sentiment.
One of baseball’s all-time great personalities, Nick Swisher never really fit the Yankee mold. The rugged outfielder ditched his long locks upon donning the New York pinstripes, much to the disappointment of Swisher’s wife, Joanna. “She likes it grown out,” Swisher said. “She was the one who told me I needed to grow it out in the first place. But being in New York, you have a lot more rules you have to follow.” An understatement if there ever was one.
The Yanks may have been Gerrit Cole’s favorite team growing up, but that doesn’t mean it’s a match made in heaven, with the club’s ace saying upon his introduction, “I’ve experienced razor burn now for the first time in the last ten years.” Sporting long hair and a beard for much of his career, the 6’4″ -220 pounder looks far less intimidating with his clean-shaven image.
Like former teammate Johnny Damon (more on him later), Kevin Youkilis endeared himself to Red Sox nation with his play and his look. Youkilis was the quintessential fan favorite. With a less-than-stellar physique coupled with his signature goatee. While his shape remained the same, gone was the goatee when the three-time All-Star joined the Yankees in 2013. Luckily for Boston fans, Youkilis’ New York tenure lasted a mere 28 games as he was a shell of his former self both in appearance and performance.
Rocking the best hairdo in all of baseball, it was a sad day when George Steinbrenner forced Oscar Gamble to trim his infamous afro in 1976. Unsurprisingly, Gamble had an endorsement deal with Afro Sheen at the time, only to lose the sponsorship in the wake of his new look. It wasn’t the prettiest of cuts either, with Steinbrenner saying in 1991, “They brought this guy in and he butchered him. Absolutely butchered him. I was sick to my stomach. I told Oscar, ‘It looks good,’ but I thought to myself it was absolutely the worst. There were blotches on his scalp.”
During his time in Oakland, former A’s slugger Jason Giambi became synonymous with his distinct long hair and goatee, ultimately dubbed “The New Face of Baseball” by Sports Illustrated in 2000. However, that all changed when Giambi signed with the Yankees as a free agent in December of 2001, as the former MVP’s new appearance sapped much of the charisma that made him so popular amongst fans.
Randy Johnson, one of the greatest pitchers in MLB history, joined the Bronx Bombers at the backend of his career. The Big Unit still sported his trademark mustache, but there was something strange about seeing him with a much shorter mane compared to his golden years in Arizona and Seattle.
Don Mattingly spent his entire 14-year career in pinstripes, but a famous incident in 1991 earned him a spot on this list. Refusing to trim his mullet-like hairstyle, Mattingly was benched by general manager Gene “Stick” Michael for the club’s August 15 game against the Kansas City Royals and fined $250. Donnie Baseball did not hold back after the game, saying, “Maybe I don’t belong in the organization anymore… It’s pretty clear where everything comes from. If Stick [Michael] wants the players to do exactly what he says, then he should be the pitching coach, batting coach, and fielding coach. Then come down here and be a part of it. But take part of the blame, too.” The team was mocked heavily for the incident, and Mattingly was back in the lineup the following day to a standing ovation. Of course, he never got back into Mr. Burns’s lineup on The Simpsons.
Was this the same man who nearly knocked Jose Bautista out with one punch? You wouldn’t know it when Odor was forced to remove his James Harden-esque beard. Put the before and after pictures side by side, and you’ll be in for a good laugh.
Rivalry aside, if there were ever a player who should have never been allowed to join the Bronx Bombers, it’s Red Sox legend Johnny Damon. Perhaps more well known for his rough and jagged look than his play on the diamond, Damon looked unrecognizable throughout his time in New York. While the two-time All-Star spent the same amount of years in pinstripes as he did in Beantown, fans could never look past the drastic change in appearance.