Saturday, August 27, 2011
What's That Under His Nose...And On His Chin
This is Geovany Soto's Heritage card from this year. When you look it over, there doesn't seem to be anything that jumps out at you. We've just got a posed shot of a catcher in his crouch. Nothing spectacular here.
The card is based on the 1962 set, and if you had this card in your hand in 1962, there would be something unusual that you would have noticed right away. Got a guess what that would be??
That was not something you would have seen on a card in 1962. My complete sets don't go back to 1962; my first is 1969. I decided to look through the set to see how many players on the 664 cards had facial hair. Want to guess how many there were?
One! Pirates rookie Al Oliver had a small mustache, and that's it.
I moved on to the 1970 set. It had, out of 720 cards, a grand total of....
...ZERO players with any facial hair. And the 1971 set was the same, 0 for 752. I figured the 1972 set would see some change. After all, these are the 70's. But not in baseball. The total for the 1972 set, out of all 787 cards was....
....one. Reggie's card has a spring training picture. The In Action card looks like the mustache has disappeared. I've read the Reggie showed up to spring training in 1972 with a mustache, so its possible, since the card is from the 4th series, the the picture was taken in the spring of '72. But the In Action card would most likely be from 1971.
It wasn't until the 1973 set that mustaches really started showing up. In 1972 A's owner Charlie Finley held Mustache Day, and several A's grew them for the occasion (and the $300 bonus).
One of baseball's most famous mustaches made its first appearance on a 1973 card, though not in its more famous style.
And the first Cubs mustache showed up too in the '73 set as Fergie Jenkins grew one. In fact, he is the first Cubs player on any Topps card, going all the way back to 1951, to have any facial hair. By the end of the decade, it became commonplace. In the 1979 set, 17 of the 26 players have a mustache or a beard.
Today, a guy like Brian Wilson has created an entire identity based on facial hair. But 40 years ago? Not a chance.