The Red Sox have a 99.9 percent chance of making the playoffs this season. We know what happened the last time they had a 99.9 percent chance of making the postseason, but this year is not 2011 for many reasons. One big change is that most of Boston’s key players have taken to growing facial hair.
The beards don’t hit, pitch, field or steal bases, but they certainly don’t hurt.
Thanks to the success of Boston’s Bearded Boys of Summer, we’ve decided to take a look at some notable Boston sports beards from past and present.
It’s only a matter of time before fans across New England and the nation begin to give their razors a rest in a bid to match the success of the Red Sox this season.
If you decide to give that a shot, don’t sweat the 5 o’clock shadow at work.
Just tell ‘em you’re trying to catch up with Mike Napoli.
Thanks to early-season proclivity for late-inning heroics, Gomes’ beard was the first to emerge as a trend-setter this season with the Red Sox. Gomes’ beard was a major topic in his latest season diary entry written for ESPN.com.“I’ve been keeping it trim. Everyone is trying to dig up what’s going on with it. These beards haven’t gotten a hit or thrown a strike all year, it’s still us behind them. We’re just having fun with it. It’s more a team chemistry thing,’’ he told the site.
He added, “And yes, I am aware everyone thinks me and Napoli are twins. If you’re looking for a difference between us, I’m an outfielder and he’s an infielder.’’
Gomes’ bearded-brother-from-another-mother has kept the heat on his teammate in the facial hair department all season. Napoli’s beard is equally as fearsome as Gomes’, possessing both depth and form. While Gomes told ESPN his own kids have trouble telling him apart from Napoli when either one is at the plate, there is another big difference between the two: Napoli’s beard has whiffed 167 times this season (as of Sept. 3), while Gomes has fanned only 75.
His on-again-off-again beard has emerged this season as a player, after being fairly alone in the Boston clubhouse during the past few seasons. The very-balding Pedroia has the unique ability to look like either a teen-aged boy or gruff middle-aged man, depending on how clean-shaven he happens to be and whether or not he’s wearing a hat.
For now, the 5-8, 170-pound second baseman has chosen a coal-miner-tough look to balance any concerns about going soft after signing $110 million contract extension that will keep him in Boston through 2021.
Both Ross and starting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia are sporting beards this season. But Ross gets special notice for that magic touch of grey he’s sporting at his beard’s tip. On Aug. 27, Ross tugged on Napoli’s beard after Napoli hit a home run in the fourth inning of Boston’s game against Baltimore at Fenway Park.
Napoli paid it forward to Shane Victorino, who hit his second homer of the game in the fifth. The Red Sox went on to win 13-2. Don’t mess with Greybeard.
When Buchholz broke in with the Red Sox back in 2007, he had the rugged, seasoned looks of a grade-school altar boy at St. Agnes Parish in Arlington. He’s sprouted various types of growth under his chin off and on during his years with the club, before slipping into what passed for a full-beard mode in 2011. His scraggly beard was a fixture during his amazing 9-0 start this season, and it has filled out during his two-month absence while recovering from a strained bursa sac in his right shoulder.
No doubt shaving has become as much a challenge as pitching.
Of all of Ben Cherington’s off-season gambles to bolster “clubhouse chemistry,’’ Victorino has paid off with the highest return. When Boston signed the Flyin’ Hawaiian to a three-year, $39 million deal last December, thousands of eyes across New England rolled in disbelief, especially since he was coming off the worst offensive season of his career and his defense had become a concern.
Perhaps it was his beard that gave Victornio, a switch-hitter, the idea to keep batting from the right side of the plate when he’s facing righties. In 55 at bats against righties while batting righthanded, he’s hitting .327 with three HR and a .949 OPS (as of Sept. 3).
No word on whether or not he shaves right- or lefthanded.
Big Papi was bearded in Boston before beards were cool. His beard sports a refined and very purposeful design, as opposed the Mountain Man-look sprouted by many of his teammates. Ortiz’s beard was even used in this Men’s Health “Style Gal’’ entry from 2010 entitled “How To Grow and Maintain a Beard.’’ The story cites Ortiz, along with CNN anchor Wolf Blizter, as an example on how to keep things clean and trim: “For a neater look (i.e. hard lines: think David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox or Wolf Blitzer), trimmers would be needed to get a straighter line on the cheeks and the neck.’’
Take that, Jonny Gomes.
Scott, who passed away on July 28, lived up to his nickname by “booming taters’’ to deep center field during his two career stops in Boston. When he rejoined the Red Sox in 1977, he was a man of his time with a high-cut beard and mustache that stayed above the chin. His 1979 Topps baseball card shows him with a set of massive mutton chops. The original “Boomer’’ will be missed.
Tiant was one of the first notable Red Sox players to showcase facial hair beyond the mustache stage. His burly Fu Manchu, often punctuated by a post-game victory cigar, endeared him to Red Sox fans in the mid-1970s who were desperate for both a personality they could embrace and a pitcher who could go toe-to-toe with the likes of Jim Palmer, Catfish Hunter and Nolan Ryan.
Tiant’s beard and his personality remain as vibrant today as they did back in the 1970s.
He “looks like Jesus, acts like Judas and throws like Mary.’’ No one ever said that about Tim Tebow. Damon was the resident Caveman on Boston’s lovable 2004 world champion idiots. Damon was shaggy, with his long hair flowing directly into his boxed beard.
His beard did come off for a DHL commercial that aired in 2005 and he reportedly had to get a one-shave exemption from another sponsor to remove it. Damon went to the Yankees, Rays, Tigers and Indians after his days in Boston.
DHL fared even worse, pulling out of the United States market in 2009, wiping out thousands of jobs in the process. In May 2004, Damon had his beard shaved as part of a charity fund-raiser held by Gillette at the Prudential Center. His facial hair grew back in plenty time for the Red Sox to win the World Series.
The only thing surprising about Bill Lee’s beard, which first appeared photographically on the Red Sox team photo in 1977, was that it didn’t arrive sooner. He was a rebel with a cause, which usually centered around world peace and hatred of Graig Nettles. If Red Sox manager Don Zimmer had a rule against beards, it’s certain Lee would have broken it just because.
Lee was the established version of the anti-establishment athlete. His lefthanded deliveries were as unpredictable as his personality. He once shaved his beard unexpectedly after a win for the Expos in 1979 . And the final “Leephus’’ pitch he threw to Tony Perez in the sixth inning during Game 7 of the 1975 World Series will be completing its 38th earth orbit sometime late on the night of October 22.
You know his history: Chicken; taking exactly 117 ground balls, batting practice at 5:17 p.m. and wind sprints at 7:17 p.m.; etching the Hebrew symbol “chai’’ (“life’’) in the dirt with when he entered the batter’s box even though he wasn’t Jewish; Margo Adams; a .328 career batting average; 3,010 career hits. Boggs was sporting a very full short boxed beard during the 1987 and ’88 seasons, when he hit .363 and .366, with a Williamseque 1.049 OPS in 1987, the highest of his career. He began 1989 clean-shaven (just a mustache) as Red Sox fans who were old enough to snag a copy were reading about his exploits with Ms. Adams in Penthouse magazine. The beard was back by the 1989 All-Star game.
Bill “Soup” Campbell
“Soup’’ Campbell was the first major big-money free-agent acquisition in the history of the Red Sox. He arrived in Boston before the 1977 season from Minnesota and was promptly put to work. The tall, lanky righthander would appear in 69 games for the Red Sox that season, saving 31 games, going 13-9 (a team-high for wins) and throwing 140 innings in a relief role, winning Fireman of The Year honors for the second straight year.
It’s no wonder he sported such a grizzled swath of facial hair back in the day: he barely had any time to shave since he was always pitching. Elbow injuries, likely due to overwork, curtailed his career in Boston and he would go on to pitch for five teams after leaving the Red Sox.
First off, he and Morgan Freeman are not the same person, despite what you may have heard during President Obama’s 2013 inauguration. The easiest way to tell them apart: Russell has 11 NBA rings and an Olympic gold medal. Russell was the best and most-winningest team athlete in the history of Boston sports.
Throughout most of his career in the NBA, his goatee was a permanent fixture as he and the Celtics rampaged to those 11 titles during his 13 seasons. Russell’s goatee has aged as gracefully as he has and has become as recognizable as his No. 6, except if you happen be George Stephanopoulos.
Pollard resided on the opposite end of the Celtics universe from Russell. His brief stay with the Boston Celtics in 2007-08 would have been completely forgettable had it not been for his unique hairstyle and facial hair.
Nicknamed “The Butcher,’’ Pollard made a Sports Illustrated for Kids list of the NBA’s Worst Hair Cuts and a Sports Illustrated list of the NBA’s Best Haircuts – for the same hair do – while he was with Cleveland.
Pollard kept his beard in its full-blown glory during his 22 games in Boston. But he was probably better remembered for his visits to “Planet Pollard’’ during CSNNE’s “Celtics Now’’ telecasts.
Somehow, the Celtics will probably be still paying this guy in 2053. His standard full-boxed beard was about the most stable part of his game in Boston. Wallace couldn’t shoot, couldn’t rebound and, when the Celtics needed him most, missed pivotal time in waning minutes of Game 7 against the Lakers in 2010, eventually fouling out of the game.
His notorious inability to get and stay in shape proved costly, as he cramped up late in the game after hanging in well against Pau Gasol in the first half.
The Bruins collectively grew playoff beards for their Stanley Cup Finals run this season, as they’ve done in years past (See Zdeno Chara). This year, the bearded Bergeron assured his No. 37 of ending up in the TD Garden rafters with his play throughout the postseason.
His Game 7 overtime goal against Toronto this year capped off one of the most emotional victories in the history of Boston sports, never mind the Bruins. Toronto stronger? In your [expletive] dreams, pal.
The next time he needs a shave, perhaps he can borrow the dagger from NESN’s Jack Edwards. Bergeron’s on-ice heroics continued against the Blackhawks – when he played at various times through a separated shoulder, torn cartilage, a cracked rib, and, of course, that punctured lung. He looked like a an Army Ranger just back from a mission each time he wore the Bruins team player of the game Army Ranger jacket during the playoffs.
Thomas’ place in Boston sports history is unassailable: he won the Conn Smythe Trophy and was virtually unbeatable during the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup title run. His bright red full-boxed beard made him a dead ringer for Yukon Cornelius.
Not only did he refuse to pump Roberto Luongo’s tires, he also refused to join his teammates when they visited the White House in early 2012 after going public with his political views. That decision alienated him from a portion of the Bruins’ fanbase and virtually the entire Boston sports media community.
He also found thousands of supporters on his Facebook page and elsewhere. Thomas took a “leave of absence’’ from the Bruins in 2012, went into exile in Colorado and was finally traded to the Islanders.
He is hardly the only Patriots’ offensive lineman in recent years to grow a beard, but his beard was perhaps the most substantial in Boston sports history. Before the 2007 season, he had decided not to shave or trim any facial hair until the Patriots lost.
By the time Super Bowl XLII rolled around for the 18-0 Patriots, Mankins’ facial hair was ready for its own area code. It stretched deep down his neck and began to encroach on his shoulders, way beyond badass biker mode.
“There are some small animals in there,” fellow lineman Dan Koppen said of his teammate’s beard. “There’s food and all sorts of stuff growing in there, too.”
It came off following the Super Bowl loss, along with those hopes of going 19-0.
Francis personified “rugged good looks’’ for the Patriots in the late 1970s, and again in 1987-88. He maintained his handsome Tom Selleck-look-alike appearance each week despite being a primary target for Steve Grogan over the middle and just past the first-down marker on the post.
Francis was once deemed an “all-world tight end’’ by none other than Howard Cosell. Francis finished his Patriots’ career with 207 catches, 3,157 yards and 28 TDs. He had 41 catches with New England in 1980, for 664 yards and eight TDs.
Brady’s experimented with multiple hair styles during his pro career. In 2010, Brady found his inner Johnny Damon and let it all out when it came to his hair. His hair style triggered heated debate on important football venues like Glamour.com, which ran a poll asking whether or not he should trim his shaggy locks or not.
Trim won 59 to 41 percent. The last time Brady hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy, which was nine years ago this February folks, he had some heavy growth on his face and chin, although it wasn’t a full-blown beard. He did have a substantial beard when he and Patriots had won the AFC title game two weeks earlier.
Brady was fairly clean-shaven when the Patriots lost Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI.