Will Jayson Werth keep his beard?
Once people stopped being stupefied over the terms of Jayson Werth's deal with the Nats, they took a step back and began asking the important questions. Like what about the beard?
"The team policy is, facial hair is OK, but it's got to be groomed," Rizzo told Yahoo!'s!!!'!!'s David Brown this week. "It's got to be nicely...professionally groomed."
That sounds an awful lot like the new Alex Ovechkin, if I'm being honest. Rizzo further told Brown that Werth is "a little bit of a free spirit" and has "a little bit of pizazz to him," but said that ultimately Jim Riggleman is in charge of beard enforcement. I guess this Joe Beimel creation qualified.
And while wondering whether the Nats have ever encountered a similar question in their baseball history, I came across the curious case of Allen "Bullet Ben" Benson. Don't remember him? This excerpt is from "The Washington Senators, 1901-1971," by Tom Deveaux. It starts after the 1934 season, when the Senators finished 34 games out of first.
How bad had things gotten? Bad enough that Allen Benson, a member of the House of David baseball team, was signed by [Clark] Griffith in an effort to boost fan interest in his sagging franchise. The House of David team consisted of good amateur players who toured the country, playing teams of local all-stars wherever they went. Their gimmick, apart from playing good baseball, was that every member of the club wore a long beard.
Griffith thought that might work well at Griffith Stadium, and Benson, known as "Bullet Ben," attracted a large Sunday crowd on August 19, 1934. He was battered about by the league-leading Tigers, but apparently not so badly that Griffith wouldn't give him another shot. Slated to next appear against the St. Louis Browns, Benson begged the owner to let him shave his beard so that he wouldn't feel like he was making such a spectacle of himself. Griffith insisted that if the beard went, Bullet Ben would have to go too. So the pitcher relented and was trounced by the Browns as well.
That was the end of Benson's major-league career. Wow.
Still. I say Werth should keep the dang thing. This was what The Post ran when Benson was signed. Nice work, 1934 caption writers.
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