Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen thinks the Yankees should phase out their policy regarding how players must wear their hair. "I definitely do think it takes away from our individualism as players and as people," McCutchen said on "The Sports Bubble" podcast. "We express ourselves in different ways."
McCutchen spent time with the Yankees down the stretch in 2018 after the Giants traded him to New York just prior to what was then the Aug. 31 waiver period deadline. He was highly productive for the Yankees in 25 regular season games -- 145 OPS+ with 10 home runs -- and his Yankee tenure was also notable because McCutchen was forced to cut his hair and remain clean-shaven.
McCutchen calls playing for the Yankees "an honor," but he also believes it's time for the policy to end. "I feel like maybe there should be some change there in the future — who knows when — but it's just one of the many things in this game that I feel that there just needs ... it needs to be talked about, and to be addressed," he said.
The Yankees' "appearance policy" has been in force since not long after George Steinbrenner purchased the team in the early 1970s. As the story goes, Steinbrenner didn't care for Thurman Munson's appearance during one singing of the national anthem, and he put in place the following mandates:
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.
In contrast, Charlie Finley, owner of the Oakland A's at around that same time, actually paid his players bonuses for growing out their facial hair and locks.
In any event, you can argue that players who sign with the Yankees know what they're getting into with this policy, but the majority of players at any given juncture have no choice as to which team they play for. That includes McCutchen at the time, who was as noted traded to New York.
There's not much evidence that the policy is hurting the Yankees on the free agent market -- money does most of the talking in those instances -- but on principle it's a bit silly to tell adults how they must groom themselves. Given that times do change and are changing, it won't be surprising if this policy is amended or done away with entirely. For now, though, it remains a curiosity in baseball.