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Turner Wins Beard Battle in World Series Game 1

October 24th, 2017 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

Baseball and beards have become inseparable. Or so it seems.

Somebody on just about every Major League Baseball team sports a Civil War-style beard. Six inches or more of facial hair flapping in the breeze.

Perhaps the greatest postseason collision of mega-beards occurred in Game 1 of the 2017 World Series tonight, when Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Justin Turner pitted his wild, red uber-beard against the more sober but just as impressive growth sported by Houston Astros starting pitcher Dallas Kuechel.

A few years ago, beards that extreme were rare in baseball, leaning toward nonexistent. Some of the early big-beard men included Brian Wilson of the San Francisco Giants and Mike Napoli of various teams.

Now …

Turner has what I like to call the Stone Age beard, which appears to suffer zero care while guys attack mammoths with primitive spears … while Keuchel responds with what I think of as the Stonewall Jackson beard, less unruly than but still an attention-grabber.

And who won the Battle of the Beards?

Got to give the “W” to Turner, whose two-run home against Keuchel and the Astros gave the Dodgers a 3-1 lead they did not surrender.

USA Today has taken a closer look at the current World Series, which may be setting a record for facial hair, and ranked 11 of the most prominent.

Beards have waxed and waned and waxed again in American society.

They were quite rare, among elite society, before 1860. As can be seen in this link to the Smithsonian website’s catalog of presidents with facial hair.

A few presidents among the first dozen-plus dabbled with beard-like looks, including John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren and Zachary Taylor.

However, it was not till Abraham Lincoln, elected in 1860, that we get a president with a serious beard, and perhaps because Honest Abe wore one, beards stuck around for much of the rest of the 19th century. In the Western World, anyway.

Of course, regular guys had beards, too, during the 40-or-so-years of facial hair ascendance.

Then it went out of fashion, with extreme prejudice; some suggest it came to be seen as crude and backwoodsy. Since William Howard Taft left office, in 1913, not a single president has worn facial hair.

Baseball featured very few beards in its early history — The Smithsonian has found at least one, dating to 1869. The sport shifted toward mustaches for a few decades, but around the end of World War I facial hair disappeared from the big-league game.

It has been noted that facial hair made a baseball comeback in the 1970s, as part of a counter-culture era, with Reggie Jacksonand his mustache leading the way and dozens of others right there with him, perhaps most famously including Rollie Fingers and his magnificently waxed handlebar mustache.

Some carefully sculpted beards began to pop up at the turn of the century, perhaps best represented by David Ortiz and his chinstrap look.

It was around 2010 that the Civil War/wildman look took over the faces of several prominent players, and these were not just “playoffs” beards worn annually by National Hockey League players.

Wilson’s perhaps came first, a luxuriant growth that the reliever also seemed to touch up with black dye. After him, several guys went full Karl Marx, and it seemed to bring them attention — and, some suggested, slightly improved statistics.

I am going to make a prediction: Mega-beards of the sort we saw on display at Chavez Ravine tonight will disappear in the next five years.

Too many downsides.

They can be gross. Food gets caught in those things. Sweat drips out the bottom of them. In cases of brawls, big beards are easy to grab and, perhaps, rip out. Ouch.

Beards, ultimately, probably are like skirts. They rise, they fall but whatever is cool now will be uncool a decade from now.



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