The New York Yankees are baseball's biggest team. They also remain the sport's biggest haters of facial hair.
For decades, the Bronx Bombers have forbidden their players from growing any facial hair other than a well-maintained mustache. The policy originates from former owner George Steinbrenner, who instituted the rule in 1976.
Forty-six years later, the Yankees still make players break out the razor when they join the club. They aren't the only team to use such a policy over the years, or even the originators of the idea, but the policy has become part of the Yankees' identity.
Some of the Yankees' players, however, aren't fans. Former New York outfielder Cameron Maybin joined the group Thursday, tweeting that the rule makes the team a less attractive destination for free agents and that many players think the rule is "wack."
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. 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…
— Cameron Maybin (@CameronMaybin) December 7, 2023
The full text of the tweet:
"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. 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 one season for the Yankees in 2019, arguably the best season of his 15-year career that ended in 2022. He also worked for the club's YES Network in 2022 as a color commentator before being dropped this year.
It's not surprising that some players have issues with the no-facial-hair rule, as it is a fairly bizarre thing to tell grown men what they are allowed to have on their faces while playing for your team. Granted, you can dictate many things when it's accompanied by seven- and eight-figure salaries, but it's difficult to imagine the benefits outweighing the possibility of potential free agents avoiding the team.
Former Cy Young winner David Price, who later signed a $217 million contract with the rival Boston Red Sox, once said he would never sign with Yankees due to that policy. Former Yankees outfielder Andrew McCutchen also ripped the policy after leaving the team, saying it "takes away from our individualism."
Former All-Star Don Mattingly once famously rebelled against the policy before becoming a proponent while managing the Miami Marlins.
If we're being real here, the Yankees' policy has survived all these years because they are the Yankees, and being the Yankees means holding onto anything that makes you feel special. The team might also feel pretty special, in a different way, if a much-wanted free agent ever signs elsewhere and says he turned down the team's offer because of the policy.