When George Steinbrenner attended his first opening day at Yankee Stadium as the team’s new principal owner, he observed each of the Yankees’ players as they lined up along the first base line during pre-game introductions. After the game, Mr. Steinbrenner gave a envelope to manager Ralph Houk. Inside the envelop was a scrap of paper that contained the uniform numbers of the players who had to get their hair cut. Ralph Houk, who had been a major in the army rangers during World War II, threw the list into the garbage.
Thurman Munson Grew a Beard
In 1977, George Steinbrenner, Yankees’ manager Billy Martin, outfielder Reggie Jackson, and catcher Thurman Munson were some of the “Yankees’ Family” that, to put it mildly, often disagreed. Billy Martin spent the entire season telling everyone that he, not Reggie, was in charge of the team. Munson tried to prove that it was he, not Reggie, who was the straw that stirred the drink. Mr. Steinbrenner made certain that everyone knew he was the owner. In early August, the Yankees were in third place and Munson, the captain and team leader, decided to challenge Mr. Steinbrenner, who could accept his players sporting a mustache, but who despised facial hair. Thurman Munson grew a beard while the Yankees were on the road.
Billy Martin Confronted Thurman Munson
Munson was good friends with Billy Martin, and when Mr. Steinbrenner discovered the state of Thurman’s face, he lashed into Billy, screaming that he had no control over his players. Martin told the press that he was going to confront Thurman. “We have a code and I hope he follows it. I’d like to see him cut it off. I’m going to ask him as a friend. I can’t force him; he’s too hard of a player and too good of a player for me to try and force him. If that’s a reflection on me, that’s a reflection on me.” A few days later, in a motel room in Syracuse before an exhibition game, Thurman shaved his beard.
Don Mattingly Refused to Cut His Hair
At about the half way mark of the 1991 season, Don Mattingly told the Yankees that he wanted to be traded. The Yankees refused. Don Mattingly let his hair grow during the season, and in the middle of August, the Yankees told Mattingly that they wanted him to cut his hair. He refused, was benched, and again requested to be traded. Manager Stump Merrill said thatMattingly would not play until he complied with team rules. Mattingly, the Yankees’ captain, held a team meeting. “It’s kind of silly to me, but we’re not winning and this is Stick’s (Gene Michael) club. He wants an organization that will be puppets for him.” Most of the Yankees’ players thought the hair cut ultimatum was a joke, but they were wrong. “It’s nickel and dime. Somebody’s hair is a ridiculous way to tear down a team, ” said Steve Sax. KevinMaas thought “…it’s so dumb, I’m not even going to talk about it.”
Don Mattingly Won
Don Mattingly beat the Yankees. The next day, Mattingly was back in the lineup. He did NOT get a haircut, but agreed that he would have his hair trimmed. The Yankees stated that there was no pressure onMattingly or other Yankees to get a haircut. They rescinded the $250 they had fined Mattingly. Gene “Stick” Michael blamed himself for not communicating clearly with Stump Merrill, he blamed Merrill for not addressing the length of Mattingly’s hair earlier, and he blamed Mattingly for not getting a haircut. Michael’s statement was a little confusing.
New York City Mayor David Dinkins put things into a perspective that applied in 1991 and still applies. “I understand rules are rules, but it is not inappropriate to inquire as to the rationale for a rule, and that one beats me. I want to know if he can take two and hit to right.”
Brooks, Larry. “Summer of ’77.” New York Post. 8 August 1977.
The Bronx is Burning: New York Daily News
By MURRAY CHASS (1991, August 16). Mattingly Flap: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow :Hair Today and Gone Tomorrow?. New York Times (1857-Current file),B9. Retrieved November 25, 2008, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2005) database. (Document ID: 115550210).
By JACK CURRY (1991, August 16). Mattingly Chooses Seat on Yank Bench Over Barber’s Chair :Mattingly Chooses Yanks’ Bench Over Barber’s Chair Royals 1 Yankees 5. New York Times (1857-Current file),A1. Retrieved November 25, 2008, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2005) database. (Document ID: 115550090).
By JACK CURRY (1991, August 17). No More Split Ends as Mattingly Rejoins Yanks :BASEBALL Mattingly Rejoins Yanks in 6-5 Victory. New York Times (1857-Current file),p. 27. Retrieved November 25, 2008, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2005) database. (Document ID: 113860664).