Yankees hair policy, explained: Why New York players aren’t allowed to sport beards, long hair

It’s been over a decade since former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner passed away, but his legacy and impact still remains within the New York organization today. That includes his notable hair policy.

Baseball players have intriguing personalities. While some let their character shine through their play on the field, others use the mustaches, beards and different hairdos to express their style. 

That’s not the case when it comes to the pinstripes. You won’t find a player sporting a Yankees uniform with luscious locks, a thick beard or even a five o’clock shadow. Anyone on the home side in the Bronx is going to be clean-shaved with nothing hanging out in the back.

The rule has stirred up its fair share of controversy. From fans, to front office members, to players and coaches, everyone has their opinion on the Yankees’ policy on facial and long hair. 

MORE: How Yankees 2024 lineup projects after addition of slugger Juan Soto

Here is more on the hair rule implemented by the Yankees. 

Yankees hair policy

The policy against long hair and beards first started with Steinbrenner during the 1970s. Steinbrenner had spent time in the United States Air Force, where he had to adhere to strict grooming standards. 

When Steinbrenner took over the team in 1973, he was not pleased during the National Anthem when he saw a few players with long, shaggy hair. He told manager Ralph Houck that it was unacceptable and those players were reprimanded. 

In 1976, the Yankees codified the appearance restrictions, as Steinbrenner and manager Billy Martin introduced the “Neatness Counts” policy. The original rules were as follows:

“No beards. No beads. No mutton chops. No long hair. No long stirrups.”

Steinbrenner defended his unique rules, clarifying two years later that the rule was not put in place because he didn’t like long hair. Rather, he wanted was “trying to instill a certain sense of order and discipline.”

The rule has since been amended. The updated version of the policy reads:

“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.”

Not everyone has agreed with the rule. The latest example came from former Yankees outfielder Cameron Maybin. The MLB Network analyst gave his two cents on the matter following the Yankees’ acquisitions of outfielders Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo and Trent Grisham, calling the rule “whack.”

MORE: Why Juan Soto might have one year with the Yankees

“This might be an unpopular take to Yankees fans, but you’d be surprised how much more attractive the Yankees would be if they got rid of that facial hair rule,” Maybin posted on X, formerly Twitter. “You wouldn’t believe how many quality players just think it’s a wack rule to have. I mean cmon we’re coming up on 2024.”

Some of the most famous examples of new members of the Yankees that were forced to shave their patented looks are Johnny Damon, Randy Johnson, Jason Giambi, Nick Swisher and Gerrit Cole. It certainly can take some getting used to, especially when players have donned a wilder look for a majority of their baseball careers. 

There have been exceptions in the offseason. Yankees star slugger Aaron Judge was seen sporting some stubble during the 2022 offseason, however, he was clean-shaven come spring training. 

Will the Yankees ever change the policy? Perhaps one day will come, but for now, look elsewhere for the baseball players sporting lettuce and whiskers. 

Source : ESPN.com

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