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Hairs vs. Squares: the 1972 Mustache Gang

In the early 70’s, the Athletics were the pioneers in a “hair revolution” that swept the major leagues. For decades, baseball had been a clean-shaven sport. The ban on facial hair was an unwritten rule of the game, and many teams expressly forbade their players from sporting scruff during the season.

Then one day in 1971, Reggie Jackson arrived at Athletics spring training with a majestic handlebar.

Charles Finley, the team’s owner, was appalled. His team already had a renegade reputation — sporting bright green-and-gold uniforms when most teams still opted for the conservative white or gray. But this was a step too far. Finley figured Jackson was sporting the ‘stache for attention, and decided to employ some reverse psychology. He quickly encouraged other players to grow their own facial hair in an attempt to steal Jackson’s spotlight. He assumed that Jackson would abandon the look if he no longer stood out.

As training progressed, though, Finley grew to like the new look — and the publicity that came with it. Soon, he offered a $300 bonus to every player willing to grow a ‘stache by opening day — and the whole team followed suit. As the season got underway, the Athletics were considered the height of facial fashion, and the “Mustache Gang” played with a newfound vigor. When they made it to the 1972 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, the showdown was dubbed “hairs vs. squares.” The hairs (and the players sporting them) went on to win the title — and two more after that. For some players, the facial hair became a way of life: Rollie Fingers kept his for the rest of his career, and revised his contract to include a $100 yearly stipend for mustache wax.

The Mustache Gang t-shirt honors the Athletics with the most distinctive upper lips: Green, Holtzman, Hunter, Fingers, Locker, Rudi, Jackson and Bando. Their staches may be long since shaved, but their Oakland style never dies.

10% of proceeds from this shirt will benefit the Green Stampede, a nonprofit that provides free tutoring to Oakland students during home games at the Coliseum.


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