Earlier this year, the New York Yankees added sponsored sleeve patches to player jerseys, but as one ex-player pointed out, still won’t let go of its outdated facial hair policy that’s likely still costing the Bronx Bombers from signing certain players.
Cameron Maybin took to X/Twitter Thursday afternoon to argue that the Yankees’ infamous no-beards policy should be abolished. Eliminating the rule, in Maybin’s opinion, would make New York a more popular free-agency destination.
“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 wrote. “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 let that go already, and I swear it would be more appealing. Again this only comes from conversations I’ve had and experience from actually Playing.”
Maybin played 82 games for the Yanks in 2019 and later worked as an analyst/brocaster for the YES Network.
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner instituted the grooming policy in 1976. The club’s “Neatness Counts” policy specifies “No beards. No beads. No mutton chops. No long hair. No long stirrups.” It was later amended to allow for mustaches, lean-back bans on mutton chops and sideburns, and permit facial hair for religious purposes.
“I have nothing against long hair per se,” Steinbrenner said after instituting the rule. “But I’m trying to instill a certain sense of order and discipline in the ball club because I think discipline is important in an athlete.
“They can joke about it as long as they do it. If they don’t do it, we’ll try to find a way to accommodate them somewhere else. I want to develop pride in the players as Yankees. If we can get them to feel that way and think that way, fine. If they can’t, we’ll get rid of them.”
The Simpsons famously goofed on the policy in the Season 3 episode “Homer at the Bat.” Mr. Burns repeatedly told Don Mattingly — one of the ringers on the Springfield nuclear power plant’s softball team — to get rid of his sideburns.
The near-50-year-old facial hair policy has probably run its course. On Thursday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he wanted to make Yankee Stadium “the mecca of baseball.” Then why homogenize every player on the roster? In 2020, Andrew McCutchen — who joined New York in 2018 via trade —argued that the policy “takes away from our individualism as players and as people” because his beard was how he expressed himself.
Probably the most jarring example of that is Johnny Damon. The outfielder was compared to Jesus for his big beard and long hair during his days in Boston. Those quickly came off when he signed with the Yankees in 2005. The scruffy, shaggy guy who ripped New York’s hearts out in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS looked like just another guy in his Yankees press conference debut. Damon later admitted he couldn’t totally part with his locks, keeping them in a bag under his sink.
Then there are the players who said they’d refuse to comply. Cy Young winner David Price said in 2013 that he would never join the Yankees, specifically because of their facial hair policy. San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson also got eliminated from Yankees free agent consideration because he refused to shave. Perhaps the Yanks could have used him as Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera retired, and his replacement David Robertson blew five saves the following season.