Andrew McCutchen
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

After a brief stint with the New York Yankees in 2018, Andrew McCutchen speaks out against the team’s strict hair and facial hair policy.

A strange, yet storied tradition for the New York Yankees has been the absence of facial hair amongst its players and personnel within the system. The long-standing policy has gone on for decades, but former player Andrew McCutchen has become the latest to blast the policy. McCutchen voiced his frustration with the policy on Jensen Karp’s podcast “The Sports Bubble.”

“I definitely do think it takes away from our individualism as players and as people,” McCutchen said. “We express ourselves in different ways … it needs to be talked about, and to be addressed.”

The policy was implemented by late owner George Steinbrenner in 1973 when some players’ long hair covered their names during the national anthem. Since then, it has been a symbolic trademark of the Bronx Bombers that has mirrored a militaristic or corporate attitude associated with the ball club.

McCutchen spent two months with the Yankees in 2018, but still felt like the policy took away from his individuality. He isn’t the first player to voice their frustrations, as Don Mattingly refused to cut his hair while playing for the team, causing him to lose his starting lineup spot and receive fines until he complied with the rules. Other players such as David Price have totally ruled out joining the team in response to the strict policy.

His time in New York was memorable, according to McCutchen, but the hair policy dinged the armor of the Yanks and the lore associated with the franchise in the eyes of the former MVP. McCutchen said in the podcast that when he sported dreads while in Pittsburgh, cutting them off for charity was even difficult for him. Imagining the burden of being forced to do so on the Yankees further adds to the controversy behind the decades-old policy and its stripping of player individuality.