Taking a quick glance around the sports world today, fashion has become as much a part of an athlete’s celebrity as anything he or she accomplishes while on the field, court or ice. Mustache comeback.
From Johnny Damon’s outrageous caveman look to Ben Wallace’s out-of-control ‘fro, style choices can be one of a sports figure’s most defining characteristics.
David Beckham, for example, has probably made more headlines due to changes in his hairstyle than anything he’s actually done on the soccer field.
But for as many different looks athletes are sporting these days, one of the best has been grossly underappreciated and needs to be rocked with greater frequency: the mustache.
Somehow this outstanding facial feature has faded on the sports landscape despite its great appeal to so many different age groups.
Yosemite Sam’s orange ‘stache has brightened up kids’ Saturday mornings for years. And Hulk Hogan’s Zapata and David Crosby’s walrus mustache are some of the most timeless looks in history.
For all its popularity, though, the mustache has become a thing of the past on the mugs of today’s sports heroes.
So, in dedication to one of the greatest attributes to ever grace a face, here is a list of some of the best sports mustaches of all time:
10. Wade Boggs: When Boggs broke into the big leagues with the Red Sox in 1982, he not only brought with him one of the most effective swings in baseball history but also the soon-to-be-most-recognizable ‘stache in all of Boston. His bushy soup strainer was nothing too out of the ordinary. But because he sported it throughout his entire 18-year career a lack of style points is compensated by a degree of respect. And the thing was orange, which is also a great feature.
9. Rod Beck: Over the course of his 12-year career, Beck, otherwise known as “Shooter,” has gained a reputation for himself by having one of the most unique fashion styles in baseball. When he emerges from the bullpen, he looks more like somebody who just stumbled out of a trailer park than a premier closer. His Fu-Manchu, however, is simply outstanding. Beck’s mustache carries on the Hulk Hogan style, as it extends down to the jaw-line and is extremely thick. While 286 career saves are impressive, they don’t hold a candle to the greatness of his marvelous mustache.
8. Nick Van Exel: “Nick the Quick” is a bit of a sleeper at No. 8 because of how simple his ‘stache is. It’s relatively thin and pretty much fits the standard as far as the general look goes. The beauty of his mustache should not be overlooked, though. It’s always well maintained, and at times (when he trims it off a little further on the sides) resembles the look Charlie Chaplin used to sport. Also, Van Exel is staying true to the ‘stache during a time when its popularity is dwindling in basketball. For that reason alone, his mustache makes the list.
7. Dennis Eckersley: A journeyman of sorts, starting for the Indians, Red Sox and Cubs before being converted to a closer by the A’s and Cardinals, “Eck” left his mark on the game of baseball over the course of his 24 seasons. During his illustrious career, which earned him a spot in Cooperstown in January, Eckersley showcased a truly magnificent mustache. At its best during his reign in Oakland, “Eck’s” ‘stache varied in length but always maintained its fan appeal. It served as a compliment to a sweet pitcher and an even sweeter mullet, earning him a solid No. 7 ranking.
6. Oscar Gamble: Okay, just look at this guy. If this isn’t one of the most fantastic photos I’ve ever seen, I don’t know what is. During a 17-year career, most of which spent with the Yankees, Gamble varied the size of his ‘fro but opted to stick with the ‘stache throughout. Had this been a list ranking overall style, Gamble would be a sure-fire top-five selection. Due to the hairdo’s huge contribution to his look, however, he falls to a not-too-shabby No. 6.
5. Al Hrabasky: Hrabasky, also known as “The Mad Hungarian,” had a look that matched his aggressive pitching style. Sporting an exceptionally shaggy Fu-Manchu and hockey hairdo to boot, his appearance was truly a crowd pleaser. He had a dynamite fastball, but part of the reason he was one of the most recognizable players of the time was because of his awesome mustache. His 13-year career, which included a 1.67 ERA in 1975, was littered with success. “The Mad Hungarian’s” legacy, however, is highlighted by one of the most killer ‘staches to ever grace a baseball diamond.
4. Dave Wannstedt: Like him or not, Wannstedt’s mustache is nothing short of spectacular. Not because it’s really thick (like Hulk Hogan’s) or all that persona-defining (like Ned Flanders’) but because it has never been evenly shaved in his 10 years as an NFL head coach. Somehow this guy has made an art form out of making a mustache look as ridiculous as possible. And for this, his ‘stache belongs among the all-time greats.
3. Robin Yount: His 3,142 career hits and two MVP awards aside, Yount’s soup strainer would have still immortalized him in the eyes of Brewer fans. A blonde mustache is an extremely rare find, especially in the sports world, and he sported it throughout his entire 20-year career. Whether he was diving for a line drive in centerfield or snaring down a grounder at shortstop, Yount always had his money mustache leading the way. His No. 19, along with this ‘stache, are now celebrated in Cooperstown, and they both help define one of Milwaukee’s Best.
2. Don Mattingly: “Donnie Baseball” is probably the best Yankee to never win a World Series. But while he himself may have had some shortcomings on the baseball diamond, his upper lip enjoyed every moment of his 14-year career. This former All-Star’s jet-black ‘stache closely resembled that of Magnum P.I. star Tom Selleck and is as much a part of Yankee lore as Babe Ruth’s beer belly. Mattingly turned 43 Tuesday. The age of his mustache is unknown.
1. Rollie Fingers: The undisputed king of the mustache has to be Rollie Fingers. And not just in sports history but history in general. His barbell ‘stache was and still is the absolute standard in this area of facial hair and during his playing days gave him one of the most creative looks in all the land. Fingers appeared in 16 World Series games over the course of his illustrious 17-year career; he won both the American League MVP and Cy Young Awards in 1981, and he had one of the most-wicked sliders in baseball history. Fingers’ memorable mustache, however, could very well be his crowning achievement.