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The List: Best Closers' Facial Hair

It's clear to us what's wrong with Joel Hanrahan, the Nationals closer who blew two saves over the weekend and tried to blow another one last night before rescuing himself. It's not the .353 batting average he is allowing to left-handed hitters, or the suspect pitch selection, or even the long balls. It's the facial hair.

To put it bluntly, the scruffy little half-goatee thing simply doesn't scream "intimidator" -- it screams "henpecked husband whose wife won't let him grow a full goatee because the mustache part tickles her nose when they kiss." But this must change.

Those of us of a certain generation recall when no closer would dare take the mound without a face full of thick, unruly hair capable of housing a small farm animal. These guys were ugly and gross, but the facial hair added an intimidation factor that has been lost today. We think this is what Hanrahan needs, so here are five prime examples for him to emulate. Feel free to add your own.

5. Goose Gossage's "Walrus" 'stache: This style is very closely related to the fu manchu (see below), only a little more restrained and a little less vertical. But it was a major part of the Goose's mound persona, and managed to convey: "I have no qualms about putting this next fastball in your earhole."

4. Rollie Fingers's handlebar 'stache: Okay, it wasn't necessarily intimidating, but it was a work of art, to be sure -- perfectly coiled curls at either end of a jet-black 'stache, held in place by an ample helping of Pinaud's Mustache Wax. And you have to love the way it was memorialized for all eternity on Fingers's Hall of Fame plaque.

3. Bobby Jenks's half-goatee: Just to show we have nothing against modern closers (or half-goatees), we honor the Chicago White Sox's current closer, whose lengthy half-goat is unruly enough (even when it's not dyed pink) to earn him a spot on a list otherwise dominated by guys from the '70s and '80s.

2. Al Hrabosky's fu manchu: The "Mad Hungarian" was known for two things: His angry, stalk-the-mound, pound-the-ball-into-the-glove, pre-pitch routine... and his fu manchu. In 1977, the Cardinals made him shave it off under a new no-facial-hair directive, and Hrabosky had perhaps his worst season in the majors.

1. Bruce Sutter's "mountain man" beard: What was in there? A family of birds? A jar of Vaseline? A sawed-off shotgun? If you were a batter facing Sutter, you had to wonder. And if you were wondering about that, well, you didn't stand much chance against that nasty splitter.

By Dave Sheinin  |  April 22, 2009; 10:00 AM ET
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Posted by: BrentwoodGuy | April 22, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Nah, he just needs to iron the brim of his ballcap, a la Chad.

Posted by: JamesWebster | April 22, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 22, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Nah, he just needs to be saving AAA games.

Posted by: kfisher32 | April 22, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

when I saw the topic, I thought, "Where does Hrabosky rank?" If the criterion is intimidation rather than eccentricity, then #1 has to be Hrabosky. Sutter was intimidating for his stuff, not his facial hair.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 22, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse


Thanks for being just a few years behind the curve, as the American Mustache Institute (, as well as, has covered this issue time and again.

In fact, at we run a monthly feature called the "Monthly Mustache Shakedown" in which we explore categories of Mustached Americans. We recently ran a feature on "Best St. Louis Cardinals Relievers Mustaches" and most recently ran a feature on the "Best Hair & Mustache Combo."

In the future, if you are to venture into the lip sweater arena, please clear these actions with the American Mustache Institute as you could harm yourself and those sitting near you.

Posted by: aperlut | April 22, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I do love a good mustache, and sports facial hair is indeed a wonderful topic. It's one of the areas where hockey does truly excel.

For example, witness the wonder of a mustachioed George Parros:

It's hard to beat Hrabosky, but there's a special place in my heart for Fingers. I know the mustache was grown with monetary encouragement, but he did it with style and kept it even after he left the A's.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 22, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

No love for "Bedrock", Steve Bedrosian? He had a monstrous, Paul Bunyan-esque beard.

Posted by: PhilliesPhan | April 22, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Between the photos and the commentary, ROFLOL! Thanks Dave!

Posted by: Section109 | April 22, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

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