The postseason of the redhead is upon us

Red October is here

October 7th, 2020
Art by Tom Forget

It's not like there haven't been successful redheads in playoffs past.

There was Rusty Staub's heroics in the 1973 World Series, Mark McGwire's World Series walk-off in '89 (called by noted ginger Vin Scully) and, of course, the legendary, five-time Fall Classic winner Red Schoendienst. He won as player, coach and manager. He's been called the "patron saint of redheads."

But this postseason, the red is blinding. It's everywhere. It's beautiful. It's like the movie The Hunt for Red October -- just with baseball players instead of submarines.

There's the Dodgers' Dustin May, whose long, wild red hair almost encapsulates his entire body. He dispenses fastballs and curveballs and leg kicks from any and every direction. Teammates call him "Gingergaard," because his stuff is so similar to Mets ace Noah Syndergaard. As a scout once said of May: "The red hair’s flowing, the fastball’s sinking, the slider, you can’t tell where it’s starting, where it’s gonna end up."

Padres hitters didn't know what to think when May's bobbing red mass took the mound on Tuesday night in NLDS Game 1. They struck out three times over the two innings he pitched.

Then there's postseason veteran and May's teammate, Justin Turner. He's one of the most well-known and formidable redheads in pro sports. His beard and hair feels like it goes on forever and ever. He once said, "It's hard work looking like this" and then a few seconds later said, "Yeah, I just don't shave or cut my hair for a few months."

The 35-year-old third baseman is hitting .333 in the playoffs and had a big hit during the Dodgers' rally on Wednesday.

Another rising redheaded star is Clint Frazier. The Yankees outfielder -- who seemingly always looks like someone has irrevocably wronged him at the plate -- had drawn comparisons to famous redhead movie bully Scut Farkus. Frazier's hair was much curlier and flowing before he joined the big leagues and New York told him he needed to trim it down. Then-manager Joe Girardi even had to dedicate an entire press conference to talking about it.

Frazier is hitting .286 this postseason, with a big homer in ALDS Game 1.

He's perhaps not as red as the others, but Freddie Freeman still considers himself part of the scarlet stars. Asked to describe himself in three words, he once said: "Tall, ginger and huggable."

Currently, he's probably the MVG (Most Valuable Ginger) in baseball. He may even win the NL MVP after his incredible 2020 season. He hasn't done too much damage on the offensive side of the ball this October, but his Gold Glove defense remains top notch.

With less hair, Braves closer Mark Melancon may not look like a redhead, but he is one, and fully embraces his ginger roots. He enjoys the "spiciness" the word ginger connotes and once compared himself to a red M&M (Get it? M&M? Mark Melancon?). He's also been one of the most reliable relievers in baseball during his 12-year career.

He threw two scoreless innings in the Wild Card Series against the Reds and helped close out the Braves' victory over the Marlins in NLDS Game 1 on Tuesday.

There's also Marlins catcher Chad Wallach, who went to the same college as Turner and once posed in an extremely red-dy photo with him. A's reliever Jake Diekman discovered he's been living the life of a lie and is 1/8 ginger. Astros righty Cy Sneed has a wonderful red beard.

Contrary to the redhead extinction theory floated by Scully in the booth a few years ago, the gingers are here more than they've ever been before. I don't really know what to make of it, but just embrace it. Enjoy it.