1976 Topps – Mike Beard
Come on man. Your name is Mike Beard. It was the mid-70’s and you couldn’t just humour the world by growing a little facial hair? Maybe something like this? It’s just so disappointing, nay, wasteful. The Atlanta Braves drafted you twice, and they’re still waiting for the beard. Just put the razor down. Earn it.
* – does not have a real beard, just a wildly misleading name.
1981 Topps – Roy Howell
Did you know that Roy Howell was an American League All-Star in 1978? I’ll bet you didn’t – but now you do.
Did you also know that Roy Howell, while rocking the shit out of the no-flap helmet, had an absolutely spectacular beard for a guy with almost no visible eyebrows? Now you do.
Roy was one of the best players on some absolutely brutal baseball teams in Toronto, and set the stage in the city for another guy who had some success with the no-flap helmet, even though that guy wore it in the field. Still, good job, Roy.
1983 Fleer – Pete Falcone
I think Pete Falcone, starter/reliever extraordinaire, was just being modest by not letting his beard and his chest hair connect. He easily could have let the neck hair grow out to let that happen, but he didn’t want to seem arrogant about it. You can see that the beard wants to touch the chest hair, and the chest hair wants to touch the beard. Pete Falcone, however, would have none of that. He’d just let them tease each other from afar.
1984 Topps – Jeff Burroughs
Late in his career, after joining the Oakland Athletics, Jeff Burroughs sported a beard. It was a thick, full beard, which, thanks to Jon Dyer’s blog (very educational), we know was called the “Short Boxed” version. It was a classic beard perfectly fit for sporting life, including the baseball field.
If Jeff Burroughs’ beard could talk, it would tell you how great it was, and that it simply didn’t respect you, with your clean-shaven-ness. You could never lead the league in RBI in 1974. You could never hit 41 home runs in 1977. You could never make it to the postseason in your final season, with the 1985 Toronto Blue Jays. It would also tell you that Jeff Burroughs was Bryce Harper in Washington 40 years before Bryce Harper – cool story at the DC Baseball History website.
Baseball. Beard. Burroughs. Three words that start with B.
1984 Topps - Toby Harrah
Who is Toby Harrah, you might ask? Well, I wondered the same thing. I knew there had to be more than just the high stirrups with prominent stripes, the flip-down sunglasses with the eye black, and the thick, dirty beard.
So, I went to this neat website (that I found on the Interwebs) called Wikipedia and searched his name. Turns out, Toby Harrah was involved in three pretty unusual feats:
- On June 25, 1976, he played both games of a doubleheader without taking a single fielding chance – as the shortstop.
- On August 27, 1977, he and teammate Bump Wills hit back-to-back inside-the-park home runs – the only time this has ever happened in Major League Baseball history.
- On August 6, 1986, he hit a grand slam for Texas, in a game when two Baltimore players also hit grand slams, setting a new record for the most slams in one game. Despite the two slams, Baltimore still found a way to lose. Some things never change.
As I’m sure you can predict, I credit the beard.
1981 Donruss - Al Hrabosky
Look at this beard: thick, dark, and completely contradictory to the long, hot Atlanta summer.
Al Hrabosky, the “Mad Hungarian,” now does colour commentary for Cardinals games – well, some of them, anyway. He has a website that I think was designed by someone who was reasonably good with the Internet in 1996. It doesn’t tell you anything, but hey, it’s there.
He also at least lent his name to Al Hrabosky’s Ballpark Saloon, but the restaurant’s website doesn’t work anymore, so I’m not sure if it’s still there. Anyone from St. Louis care to enlighten me?
If the Saloon is still there, you can leave that beard hair in my burger, thank you very much. It might make me a bit tougher, and I don’t care how weird that sounds.
1984 Topps - Greg Luzinski
At first glance, Greg Luzinski looks like a Dave Kingman type of player. He is big, rocked the old-school batting helmet, played in the “Artificial Turf and Overrated Power Stats” era, was questionable at best in the field, and struck out a lot.
However, a bit of a closer look at his nerd stats (see: Morrow, Brandon) shows that Luzinski actually holds up reasonably well as a valuable player, not just a long ball hitting goon.
The key difference here is that Dave Kingman did not have a beard, and Greg Luzinski’s beard was absolutely incredible – completely fitting for a man nicknamed “Bull.” It’s the kind of beard that separates men from boys and good from evil.
He was also on the cover of Sports Illustrated twice – once with the Phillies, and once with the White Sox. Both belong in a museum somewhere. Actually, maybe they already are.
1984 Topps - Bruce Sutter
I don’t think I could have been a successful closer in the 1970’s and 80’s. My facial hair just isn’t up to par. Today’s case in point: Bruce Sutter.
Sutter, who changed the game by perfecting the splitter, was also the first ever pitcher elected to the Hall of Fame who never started even one game. Also, he wore number 42, which made it a bit awkward when the Cardinals retired his number. Something about some kid named Robinson wearing it with a bit more meaning.
But really, is all that stuff important? Let’s get our priorities straight. I mean, look at that 1984 Topps card. That beard had flow! How many beards could flow in the breeze better than most men’s hair? Bruce Sutter, we salute you.
1987 Topps - Bryn Smith
Bryn Smith (not Bryan, Bryn) was an underrated pitcher. He went 18-5 with a 2.91 ERA with the 1985 Montreal Expos. Bryn Smith also had an underrated beard. What it lacked in dark colour it made up for in depth and thickness. Coincidence? I think not.
1988 Topps - Jeff Reardon
Here at Sorting by Teams I pay a lot of attention to the mustache… and for good reason. The mustache is an incredible thing, even though some people who have them shouldn’t be allowed near schools.
However, the beard is an often overlooked feature that deserves recognition of its own. Hence, today’s new category, Badass Beards.
One of the best Badass Beards in history was Jeff Reardon. I remember him during the 1992 World Series while playing for the Braves, talking about giving up the game winning hit to Candy Maldonado: “People say why’d you throw him another curveball? Well, I threw him another curveball because he looked sick on the first two.” I thought he might rip the reporter’s head off.
He looked that day like he did on 1988 Topps. Angry. Bearded. Badass.