Scanning the portraits of U.S. Presidents is a crash course in mainstream American male grooming history (the full plumage peaks around the Hayes administration - a man who would not have looked totally insane wearing a beard of bees). Baseball has gone with the times too, but there have been plenty of trend-setters and eccentrics who have innovated with scruff, even after shaving no longer required using a sharpened Bison ribs
Over time, the beard torch has passed from U.S. Grant to the realm of weirdos, professors and relief pitchers. Facial hair in baseball has often reflected the individualism sought by men in their 20s and 30s, the need for novelty over the long slog of the season and the desire of pitchers to annoy hitters with soul patches and Anthrax chin-beards.
The Reds have a smaller historical pool of players with facial hair thanks to the ban that ran from 1967 to 1999. Started in response to hippy youth culture - or possibly as a kick back to Big Shaving - it mandated a clean-shaven look. At least one Red was traded as a result of breaking the policy and several rumored to be discouraged from signing. IN '93, Jeff Reardon was forced to shave his magnificent beard when he joined the team.
Beard Ban notwithstanding, the Reds have had plenty of good stubble trouble in their history. Let's take a look (after the jump).
There's little argument over what current Reds have the best facial hair. Sam LeCure and Corky Miller have gotten as much attention for their grooming as their play. LeCure's facial coiffure has undergone numerous changes. While the photo at the top of the post is a little more kempt, I think I might prefer the more sea-going, Sir Walter Raleigh goatee from Picture Day
Corky Miller's facial hair needs no introduction. It has its own Red Reporter screenname. There are plenty of dudes who couldn't carry off the Fu Manchu. Corky is not one of these. I believe him as a wizened journeyman catcher as much as I believe him as a guy who builds choppers. Or who is brought in to "fix the situation." It is somewhat disconcerting, though, that the mustache itself does resemble a guy with long hair who has a mustache.
Corky and LeCure were enough to put the Ban cleanly behind Reds have made up for shunning 'staches having one of their 17 mascots sport a honking old-timey one:
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Facial hair type: Asterix, Gentleman Masher
While he was better-known as a member of the Cubs and Red Sox, King Kelly also played for such teams as the Class No Classification Binghamton Bingoes/Allentown Buffaloes and began his major league career with the CIncinnati Reds (the NL charter team before their expulsion). Even on a team that featured Buttercup Dickerson and Chub Sullivan, Kelly and his 'stache shined. It's basically the same mustache (and possibly the same size) as worn by Mr. Redlegs - facial hair that is synonymous with sepia tones and wearing those useless bands around your shirsleeves.
A Hall of Famer, Kelly is an almost-mythical figure who inspired what is said to be the first "pop" hit record ("Slide Kelly Slide" on Edinson cylinder), performed vaudeville in the offseason and may have also inspired "Casey at the Bat."
Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn (Twitter: @OldHossRadbourn)
Facial hair type: Selleck Supreme
"Old Hoss" is another 19th Century Hall of Famer who meandered through Cincinnati. He had a distinguished career in Providence and Boston, but notched his 300th win as a Red in his final major league season. He's probably most known for his 1884 season with Providence, which even in a dead ball era, arouses suspicion that he was on the Mackelry's Famous Vitality Tonic: most wins all-time in a season, second-most IP and an ERA, even league adjusted, is 34th all time.
His mustache was so robust, that it looked pasted-on. He also had a Chameleon-like ability to dissolve into any background, which may have been the secret to his success.
Facial hair type: Frank Zappa
He had a fabulous name, a fabulous mustache and the two complemented each other nicely. I could only find pictures of him clean-shaven as a Red, but here he is anyway.
The Sideburns of the Big Red Machine
Facial hair type: Mouthpiece Muttonchop (Foster), Treetrunk (Morgan), EarWig (Rose)
The Ban was in place in the '70s, but the BRM had certainly earned the right to flout it a little. You might take issue with whether Pete Rose's 'burns has any amount of style (as opposed to just being hair that's invading his face from the flanks), but I think these are premium chops:
Facial hair type: Wide-angle Fu Manchu
Jones pitched only 57 innings for the Reds in 2004, before being traded to Philly. From the looks of this picture, he didn't enjoy it. I'm kind of surprised an autographed memorabilia for his four-month layover in Cincinnati exists, but he made an impact with his 'stache. It kind of looks like a bird taking flight. On the wings of competent relief pitching.
Todd Jones once finished fifth in Cy Young voting.
Facial hair type: Goate-E7
Vaughn was responsible for the repeal of Beard-obition after he was traded to the Reds prior to the 1999 season. For that trail-blazing alone, he makes the list. He wanted to keep his goatee and had 50 reasons why, a fact that was not lost on Marge: "I told him I wanted to see him hit 50 home runs again this year and create additional enthusiasm for our fans throughout the 1999 season."
Vaughn's goatee was far from the most remarkable thing, but it was seminal. Every Reds player who saw it went on to grow their own beard. Looked good too:
Honorable Mention: Sean Casey. Love the mayor and the goatee worked well for him, but I didn't want to double-up on what became a pretty played-out style as early as the Greg Vaughn era.