Friday marked an interesting day for Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. Twenty-three years to the day, Mattingly was benched as a member of the New York Yankees. It wasn’t for fighting another player in a brawl or for poor performance on the field. It was for not cutting his hair.
Started by George Steinbrenner in 1973, the rule is such that players on the Yankees cannot have an unprofessional amount of hair. This includes facial hair, which has also altered the looks of Johnny Damon and Kevin Youkilis, among others. Hair that extends beyond the player’s shoulders also is not permitted.
According to Eric Stephen of True Blue LA, Mattingly explained his problem with the suspension:
I’ll tell you what my main gripe was. Everybody – well I shouldn’t say everybody – but a lot of guys had long hair,” Mattingly remembered on Friday. “That was my fight right there.”
Mattingly wasn’t the only one to be suspended for his long locks. Matt Nokes, Pascual Perez and Steve Farr were among those suspended as well. The Dodger skipper voiced his concerns with the Yankees’ hair rules:
My biggest issue that day was ‘If you don’t get your haircut today, you don’t play,’ and I was at the ballpark. Well, don’t tell me two days ago,” Mattingly said. “If you tell me today, ‘If you don’t have it cut by tomorrow, you won’t play,’ I would have got it cut.”
In 14 seasons with the Yankees, Mattingly was a six-time All-Star, a nine-time Gold Glove Award winner and a three-time Silver Slugger Award winner. He added an AL MVP award in 1985, was named a batting and RBI champion, and has his No. 23 Yankees’ jersey retired. Mattingly also was one of 14 Yankee captains.
The Yankees are the only franchise in MLB that instills strict guidelines regarding a player’s hair.
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