The Yankees Used Their Dumb Rule Against Rougned Odor | Sports Takes & News | TooAthletic.com
Rougned Odor, the newest New York Yankees, recently made his debut and in doing so, became the latest victim of an outdated team rule. The rule, which is putting Odor in trouble with members of his family, is one that the Pinstripes need to get rid of in order to join the 21st century and become part of modern sports and society at-large. This rule, believe it or not, involves facial hair, and has the also-ran franchise of the last two decades looking old and stale.
“My daughter … she doesn’t want to look at me,” was how Rougned Odor answered when asked what life was like without his familiar beard. A beard he was forced to shave off in order to play for the New York Yankees after being traded to the team by the Texas Rangers.
The Yankees’ appearance policy dates to when George Steinbrenner purchased the team in 1973. As the story goes, he was sitting in the stands and noticed players with hair that obscured their uniform number, making it impossible for him or fans to know who there were. Steinbrenner, a veteran of the United States Air Force, quickly instituted a policy that prohibited “scalp” hair to fall below the collar of his uniform and all facial hair other than mustaches must be shaved off. This rule not only applies to players in uniform, but coaches and male executives of the team as well.
One well-known player to challenge this rule was All-Star first baseman Don Mattingly, who would often try to grow his hair beyond the limits of the rule, and was quickly pulled from the starting lineup until he visited a barber shop.
Lou Piniella, the long-time Yankees player turned team manager tried to relax the rule during a spring training, citing that Jesus Christ has long hair. When asked for comment about what Piniella did, George Steinbrenner pointed to a nearby hotel swimming pool and said, “if you can walk on water, you can wear your hair anyway you want.”
Steinbrenner took over as owner of the Yankees one year after Major League Baseball dropped a league-wide rule banning facial hair. Some franchises like Oakland A’s of the 1970s paid their players extra to grow out their facial hair since it connected them with the fans. Older franchises kept the rule in place, with the Cincinnati Reds maintaining the ban until 1999, leaving the New York Yankees as the last team standing in the face of facial hair.
There have been a few players who have avoided signing with the Yankees because of their appearance policy. Some announcers and commentators will mention a player or coach’s appearance when evaluating a job they are in the running for. Many will hold it against them if they have long hair or wear caps backwards, the theory being it is more difficult to take them seriously or see them as a leader.
As for me, as someone who is lucky enough not to need to wear a shirt and tie to work every day, players have very few ways to help themselves stand out on a field since they are wearing the same uniforms. Letting their hair grow or having beards or a goatee makes players look more like fans and less like the executives who own or run franchises. It is that connection that helps diversity in the stands, encouraging fans to attend games and support their team.
Anytime the New York Yankees want to get off their moral high horse and join the 21st century, getting rid of a rule that dates back a century would be a great start. Because, spoiler alert, players want to feel comfortable on the field, and many men nowadays like having facial hair. Instead, their newest player won’t be able to tell his daughter how well he played because she is not talking to him.
Perhaps, if the Yankees want to keep this rule, we should also make them turn off the stadium lights and play all night games since, with this rule, they are living in the dark ages.
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The Yankees Used Their Dumb Rule Against Rougned Odor | TooAthletic.com
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