Hold the shaver. A 32-year-old tradition has fallen.
Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott junked the rule about no facial hair, delighting some players who had delayed shaving their beards and mustaches until the last minute.
"When I was traded here from St. Louis, the only thing I didn't like was the fact that I had to shave," said right fielder Dmitri Young, who arrived early at spring training Monday with a mustache and beard.
"I know that goes the same for a lot of guys. I've even talked to some who said that's the only reason they wouldn't want to play for the Reds. Of course, I didn't think it was right for me to say anything. I don't exactly have the same pull as Greg Vaughn."
Vaughn's 50 home runs last year with San Diego obviously gave him some clout with the Reds, who traded for him on Feb. 2. Schott agreed this week to Vaughn's request that she waive the rule about facial hair, a policy dating to 1967.
So Vaughn's goatee is safe, clearing the way for other players.
About one-third of the Reds' early arrivals at the City of Sarasota Sports Complex showed up with some facial hair. All were holding off before reaching for the razor, hoping for a policy change.
"I called Greg Vaughn to let him know before he reported to spring training, so he could keep his goatee as long as it was neatly trimmed," Schott said. "With the support of our fans, we have changed our facial hair policy. The team will continue to respect the traditions of Cincinnati Reds baseball and adere to our other uniform personnel rules, presenting a clean-cut image."
The Reds said they were swamped by calls from fans who supported Vaughn's plea for his goatee.
Brian Johnson, a catcher signed by the Reds during the off-season, arrived in camp with a goatee.
"I'm 31 years old, and I've had this for five years," said Johnson, who shaves his head. "I had to cut it off for the media photo when I signed here, and I looked like I was about 12 years old. I'm happy that they made the change. No one wants to disrespect tradition, but that was a rule brought in during a certain era, and it's kind of outdated."
Enforcement of the rule began during the days of Vietnam War protests.
Manager Jack McKeon sported a mustache when he managed the Oakland Athletics in 1977 and '78 and again as Padres manager and general manager in the late '80s. He said Schott's decision will mean he won't have to issue the occasional reminder to shave or get a haircut.
"I probably had to do that about three or four times last year, but it was never a problem," McKeon said. "You change with the times, so it's no big deal to me. I'm just interested in how you play."
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