A field guide to the greatest, most glorious mustaches in the Hall of Fame
If you're heading to Cooperstown for this weekend's induction festivities, you certainly won't be lacking for things to do. But no trip to the village on the shores of Otsego Lake is complete without a stroll through the Plaque Gallery at the Hall of Fame. You'll see fans dressed in the gear of all 30 teams (and some that no longer exist!) gazing at the tablets of everyone from Hank Aaron to Robin Yount.
As you take in the accomplishments of the 317 immortals (312 if you're in the gallery before the new plaques are installed on Sunday evening), don't overlook how they're depicted. One subset that stood out on a recent visit were the glorious mustaches forever captured in bronze. Here are some of the best:
The Ned Flanders
Player: Bid McPhee
He may not have a plaque of his own like his neighbor, Homer Simpson, but Springfield's friendliest neighbor-ino seems to have a presence in the form of John Alexander "Bid" McPhee's soup strainer. If Flanders did have a plaque it might share the last line of McPhee's: "Known for his sober disposition and exemplary sportsmanship."
Player: George Davis
Davis' career (1890-1909) overlapped with Teddy Roosevelt's heyday: T.R.'s service with the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War, two years as governor of New York, six months as William McKinley's vice president in 1901 and his presidential tenure from McKinley's assassination to March 1909. "Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far," Roosevelt often said, and Davis did. "A shortstop of shining prominence whose offensive prowess greatly surpassed his peers in the Dead Ball Era," his plaque reads.
Player: Old Hoss Radbourn
The Minor Leagues have the 66ers and once had the 89ers, and football's got the 49ers, so why not recognize Radbourn's record 59-win season in 1884 by naming his 'stache after it? The funny thing is that most photos of Radbourn show him with a neat, trimmed mustache, but there are definitely a few showing longer whiskers, as depicted here. (The "E" at the end of his surname, however, remains a mystery. It's also on his tombstone and in many early newspaper accounts, but present-day publications, including the annual Hall of Fame Almanac put out by the museum, spell it Radbourn.)
Player: Sam Thompson
I'm not saying Dr. Seuss modeled the title character of his own favorite book on the plaque of this slugger from the 1890s, but I'm not not saying it, either.
The Wyatt Earp
Manager: Frank Selee
Earp, the Old West gambler and lawman, was never wounded in any of the numerous gunfights in which he took part, a display of his skills as a strategist and leader of his posse. Selee's .598 lifetime winning percentage over 16 years is still the fourth-best mark all-time, a display of his skills as a strategist and leader of his posse.
Player: Deacon White
You know those appendages spiders have in front of their mouths, often with claws or pincers on the end? Those are called chelicerae (pronounced "kel-iss-er-uh"), and that's precisely what White's mustache looks like. Just try not to see it.
The Downy Feathers
Player: Goose Gossage
Rich Gossage's nickname was bestowed upon him in 1972 by White Sox roommate Tom Bradley, who said the reliever "looked like a goose when he leaned in to get the signs from the catcher," according to Gossage's official site. And that came before he grew his famous mustache, which is now as white as a certain water fowl's plumage.
The Yosemite Sam
Player: Jim O'Rourke
"Orator Jim," who collected the first hit in NL history, played past the age of 50 and served stints as a manager, umpire and Minor League president, doesn't have much in common with Bugs Bunny's most aggressive antagonist -- unless you trade that pillbox cap on his head for an oversized 10-gallon hat and put pistols in his hands.
Player: Rollie Fingers
Perhaps baseball's most iconic and recognizable mustache. Admit it, when you saw the headline on this post, Fingers is the first one who came to mind. The depiction on his plaque may be the most true-to-life of any Hall of Famer's facial hair, maybe because Fingers' remains his trademark today. It may be a little grayer, but it looks the same in 2017 as it did when the plaque was cast in 1992, not to mention as it did in 1972, when the ace reliever originally grew it, first in protest, then in order to win a $300 prize offered by A's owner Charlie Finley. The mustache turned 45 years old this spring, older than any active player. That's some dedication to a look.