There is nothing in this world more intimidating, more ferocious, more capable of peering into your soul and judging you to be a worthless, gutless wretch than a hard throwing relief pitcher with a mustache. And my lord, their names! Rollie Fingers. Goose Gossage. Dan Quisenberry. Dennis Eckersley. Willie Hernandez. Don’t know who they are? Let me just repeat the best one: Goose Gossage. The man went by Goose and he was still one of the scariest sons of bitches that ever played baseball. Goose Gossage. And these men didn’t just throw heat, they breathed fire. They combed their mustache by flaring their nostrils. They could strike out Reggie Jackson with a glare. And Reggie Jackson! God bless him.
In 1972 Reggie Jackson reported to spring training sporting a mustache, becoming the first major league baseball player with a lip tickler since Wally Schang of the Philadelphia A’s in 1914. Fifty-eight years passed without a mustachioed baseball player. Jackie Robinson justifiably is celebrated for breaking baseball’s color barrier but Reggie Jackson, Mr. October, should be lauded as a titan of bravery for breaking the mustache barrier in big league baseball heralding in the true golden age of baseball: the mustache era.
I usually wear a beard; I sadly do not have the fortitude to wear a mustache. I don’t have the confidence. Whenever I shave off my beard I leave the mustache for a moment to see in the mirror. I close my eyes in anticipation, hoping I’ll look like a relief pitcher, or a motorcyclist, or Tom Selleck, or, at the very least, a gay porn star. But I don’t, instead I look like Dan Aykroyd. Also I look ten years older.
Many times someone has seen my beard, especially when it’s in its full furry glory, and called me Grizzly Adams or Jeremiah Johnson or a lumberjack. You people all need to realize that none of these comments are original or funny, so stop saying them. A beard isn’t brawny; beards are for us men with minor semblances of brawn but drape our cold faces from the elements. Beards are for hiding—for hiding acne, pockmarks, scars, a weak chin or a fat face. But a man with a mustache is a proud man who only watches movies that star Burt Reynolds, who only listens to the music of Tennessee Ernie Ford, and hasn’t trusted the nightly news since Walter Cronkite retired. And you just know that these mustachioed types have a secret handshake when they see each other, they are the freemasons of facial hair. A man with a mustache is not a man, he is more than a man; he is a gentleman. He has no semblance of brawn, he is pure brawn. When you see a man with a mustache you know to watch your step because he just might punch you in the face. Your ridiculous hairless face.