The Thinking 

The Athlete’s Face

January 15, 2010


Before the 1972 Oakland A’s hit the field, it was rare to see baseball players with beards or moustaches. The A’s brought a whole new look, one that continues in various forms to this day.


Team owner Charlie Finley offered a $300 prize to the player who could grow the most interesting facial hair and held “Moustache Day” at the park, offering free admission to anyone with a moustache. (Hey, it was the seventies.)  Rollie Fingers, shown below, won the prize. The fact that the A’s went on to win three World Series didn’t hurt their look.


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The Fighter’s Face

January 15, 2010




Apropos of the recent discussions of beards and men, I was wondering why so few men in the 40s and 50s had facial hair. The reason was obvious, but I didn’t see it.

P.W. writes:

One of the main reasons that beards fell out of favor in the 20th Century was for military reasons, especially during the World War I years and beyond. 

This is because of the invention of poison/nerve gas. Men with beards and a lot of facial hair (mustaches, etc) are not able to obtain an adequate seal on their gas-mask, thus beards were abandoned first by the military so that their gas-masks would work correctly. Beards were discarded by the military for purely practical reasons and that trend then trickled out in to the general populace. 

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