MLB

Andrew McCutchen Says the Yankees’ Focus on the Pinstripes Hurts ‘Individualism’ in New York

The Yankees are known as the winningest MLB team. They’re also known for the club’s no-nonsense approach to winning. In New York, the World Series comes above all else. That means they sacrifice things like individuality. Former Yankee Andrew McCutcheon discussed this. Let’s look at how New York’s uniform and stance on facial hair may hurt individualism. 

The history of the Yankees’ uniforms

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No matter how you feel about them, the Yankees have an iconic uniform. According to Pinstripe Alley, the Yankees added the pinstripes to the uniform in 1912. But the pinstripes didn’t become a permanent fixture until 1920. Though they’re the most famous team to wear pinstripes, they’re not the only ones. The Cubs, Giants, Mets, and Phillies have all worn them at one time or another. 

The Yankees also don’t wear names on the back of their jerseys. The thought process was that the team should come before the player. That’s one of their many team-first policies. Another one has to do with facial hair. 

The Yankees’ facial hair policy

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According to Beyond the Box Score, the Yankees’ policy of not allowing players to have beards began with former owner George Steinbrenner. It was one of the first things he did as the team owner.

In his later years, Steinbrenner was a revered figure in the game. But those who recall the start of his tenure remember a more tumultuous time. Steinbrenner often publicly clashed with his players and managers (Billy Martin, anyone?). His facial hair policy was another example of his controlling nature. 

The Yankees’ facial policy reads as follows: “All players, coaches and male executives are forbidden to display any facial hair other than mustaches (except for religious reasons), and scalp hair may not be grown below the collar. Long sideburns and ‘mutton chops’ are not specifically banned.”

Beyond the Box Score reported that the state of New York has banned employers from discriminating on the basis of facial hair. This means the Yankees’ outdated policy could be in trouble. Some players challenged Steinbrenner’s rules. For example, the team once benched former first baseman, Don Mattingly, for refusing to get a haircut. When he returned to the starting lineup, the fans gave him a standing ovation. 

Andrew McCutcheon says the Yankees stifle individualism

MLB player Andrew McCutchen
Andrew McCutchen of the Yankees in 2018 | Alex Trautwig/MLB via Getty Images

While McCutcheon currently plays for the Phillies, the Yankees traded for him in 2018. Insider reported McCutcheon commented on how the Yankees’ rules set a dangerous standard that restricts the players.

He talked specifically about the team’s facial hair policy and insistence on players not wearing their names on the back of their jerseys: “Those policies — shaving and letting the jersey speak for itself — I definitely do think it takes away from our individualism as players and as people … We express ourselves in different ways.”

However, many famous MLB players have gotten in line when they joined the Yankees — and the accompanying dollar signs of a big contract. Johnny Damon was famous for wearing a thick, shaggy beard before joining the Yankees. He shaved. Jason Giambi often looked unkempt in Oakland before cleaning up his act in New York. Randy Johnson, famous for his mullet, got a nice trim before donning the pinstripes. 

It’s unclear how long the Yankees’ facial hair policy will last with new laws on the books. That said, with activities celebrating individuality like the Player’s Weekend and with players being more outspoken than ever, it feels like only a matter time before someone successfully challenges the rule. As for the uniforms, the pinstripes with no name on the back aren’t going away anytime soon.