Honorable mention: Sean Manaea
This isn’t technically a mustache, but 70s-style, Wolverine-esque mutton chops are always a win and is an especially risky move when you’re injured. But since the chops first appeared (at least when I remember)? Mike Fiers threw a no-hitter and the A’s have gone 14-6, including a 10-game winning streak. #Rallychops anybody?
No. 10: Reggie Jackson
Mr. October was also Mr. Catterpillar lip for the Swingin A’s in the 1970s. It wasn’t as dominant or attention-grabbing as Rollie’s, but this was a championship-winning mustache in its own right, making its way into Cooperstown (along with his Dwight Schrute-ish glasses). Legend has it that Jackson was one of the first ballplayers in the 1970s to feature a mustache, sporting one in spring training and helping inspire a revolution on the A’s and in MLB. The Swingin A’s are known by some – according to Wikipedia, and I just found this out as I was writing this story – as The Mustache Gang, and faced off against the Cincinnati Reds in 1972 in what was known as “The Hairs vs The Squares.” This is some of my best journalistic work already.
No. 9: Dave Henderson
Henderson advanced on Reggie’s look in the 70s, taking the lengths of the curvature further than they had ever gone before. Henderson and his mustache was a member of the A’s 1989 championship team and a part of each of their three World Series appearances from 1988-1990. Here’s hoping Hendu and his stache are at peace.
No. 8: Gene Tenace
Gene Tenace rocked the stache most heavily and successfully with the A’s in the 1970s, leaving it behind after leaving the game. But it was a great force with the Swingin’ A’s. Yet another championship-winning lip hat.
No. 7: Vida Blue
Sweet Vida Blue, one of the greatest pitchers in A’s history, also rocked a low-key, saucy little number on his top lip. The mustache was usually split in two, separated at the base of his nose, and looked like drawn-on eyebrows, slanted beautifully. A sweet mustache indeed.
No. 6: Catfish Hunter
Did someone say three-peat? Catfish – already the second Hall of Famers on this list – had a heavy mustache that paired perfectly with his moppy hair, spilling out from under his cap. Hunter was a three-time champion, HOFer, and has one of the great classic mustaches in not just A’s history, but in MLB history. He rocked the Swanson before it was cool, and did it better than anyone.
No. 5: Daniel Mengden
The inspiration for this list and the most recent inductee into the A’s mustache HOF. A great modern-day take on Rollie’s all-time look, Daniel Mengden has the high socks and jaunty leg kick to match the great, greasy handlebar mustache. Put him on the Swingin A’s and he fits right in. Hell, he probably starts a World Series game.
Yet another member of the “Mustache Gang” that I obviously have known exists for a long time now. If the upturned mustache is called a handlebar, then Bando’s thick downturned mustache is a… horseshoe, according to a recent Google search. Bando played third base for the A’s and is fourth place on this list.
No. 3: Dick Williams
Not many managers in the 1970s would have been okay with a crop of their players sporting upper lip sweaters, but Dick Williams was a different breed of manager. It’s one thing to sport a mustache as a young man, but it takes someone special to pull off a silver cap, and Dick did it better than anyone. A Hall-of-Fame mustache for a Hall-of-Fame manager.
No. 2: Dennis Eckersley
If you go to an A’s game, in between innings, you’ll see a big head race between Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley and Rollie Fingers. Immortalized on Eckersley’s big head is his dark, glorious, perfectly kept mustache that has stood the test of time, aging gracefully on Eck’s upper lip.
No. 1: Rollie Fingers
There was no doubt. Any list, any column, any conversation about athletes and mustaches that doesn’t start and end with Rollie Fingers is wrong and I want nothing to do with it or the person that made it. Fingers’ handlebar mustache is an iconic landmark in sports history that deserves its own bust in Cooperstown. Nonetheless, even at 76 years young, Fingers still jaunts his mustache out, greasy twirls and all. I aspire to be everything that mustache is.