Nestor Cortes
Gregory Fisher | USA TODAY Sports

Nestor Cortes was a just a baby-faced arm out of the Yankees’ bullpen.

And then he grew a mustache.

The rest is history.

The crafty lefty may be New York’s No. 5 starter, but he has pitched like an ace this season. His 1.41 ERA is second in the American League and no opponent has solved Cortes’ signature cutter yet.

Could Cortes’ power comes from his mustache? Sure, the spin rate and unique windup changes are also a factor, but think about it. Antiquated as the Yankees’ rule banning beards may be, those who have worn the mustache well have enjoyed success in pinstripes.

So here we go. It’s time to rank the best mustaches in Yankees history.

Honorable mention: We can’t honor every Yankees mustache, but some just flat out can’t be ignored before we get to the big ones. Sal Fasano was a Yankee for a hot minute, but his was very befitting a guy named Sal. Jason Giambi’s awesomely bad dye job had real Costco Burt Reynolds energy. Catfish Hunter’s made him look like something of a catfish himself. And don’t forget Joba Chamberlain or Billy Martin.

Now, the top-10 (in ascending order):

No. 10: Ron Guidry

Dubbed “Gator” for his Louisiana roots, Guidry’s ‘stache and thick Cajun accent showed how much of the bayou he brought with him to the Big Apple. When he wasn’t striking out 18 batters in a game, he could easily be pictured riding a fan boat and hunting his namesake. And all while that sweet, subtle mustache blew in the breeze.

No. 9: Nestor Cortes

Nestor Cortes
Dan Hamilton | USA TODAY Sports

A splash of Super Mario, shot of South Florida, and one shake of Brooklyn hipster brings us to the man of the hour. The baseball is his fire flower, after which he’ll don a chic outfit and probably go out for a fancy specialty cocktail. And if Cortes keeps pitching the way he has all season, he can do all of those things as much as he pleases.

No. 8: Reggie Jackson

Jackson might not have been the straw that stirred the drink, but his mustache sure was. Mr. October’s soup-strainer dripped confidence chowder and earned him endorsements galore. His image and skills on the diamond made him the first true celebrity athlete, and a record-setting contract from the Yankees didn’t hurt either.

No. 7: Brendan Ryan

Ryan wasn’t a Yankee long, didn’t play much, and his teams weren’t that good. But it didn’t matter. He grew his mustache and wore it with pride as a stopgap utility infielder. He left in free agency after 2015, shaved the ‘stache, and only played 17 more MLB games. That isn’t at all a coincidence. Trust us.

No. 6: Wade Boggs

Between the rapidly-thinning hairline, quirky pregame habits, and a mustache definitive of his native Tampa, Boggs was a true old-school ballplayer. Considering the Hall of Famer was a .328 lifetime hitter who rode a horse after winning a World Series, having a mustache served Boggs well indeed.

No. 5: Clu Heywood

Yes, we’re rolling with a fictional character because the mustache is just that good. Played by veteran MLB pitcher Pete Vuckovich, Heywood’s massive frame and even bigger handlebar makes him look the part: a scary Yankees slugger who can change the game with one swing. Almost makes you wish that Vuckovich wasn’t a .159 career hitter, and instead someone who slugged his way into Monument Park.

No. 4: Don Mattingly

Donnie Baseball’s facial hair was subtle, and he certainly played bigger than his spindly 6-foot, 175-pound frame before his back gave out. He’s gone clean-shaven since becoming a manager, and it just isn’t the same. Far as Yankees fans are concerned, Mattingly without a mustache means he’s missing a piece of his soul.

No. 3: Goose Gossage

Gossage’s aggressive handlebar was his stepping stone to becoming one of baseball’s best closers. Seriously, go look at a picture of Gossage before he joined the Yankees in 1978. Considering he notched 254 of his 310 saves from then on, mustachioed forces were clearly at play.

No. 2: Thurman Munson

Munson’s handlebar was the epitome of his blue collar Ohio toughness. He was never afraid to put his body on the line and since his tragic death in 1979, only a few Yankees have come close to matching his work ethic. Much like Gossage, his strength came from his mustache and seeing him without one just doesn’t make any sense.

No. 1: Sparky Lyle

He might not have been the Egg Man, but Lyle’s thick ‘stache sure made him the Walrus. Given he didn’t make a single start in his career and yet tossed over 100 inning six times, he clearly drew Samson-like strength from it. To quote the Walrus himself, Goo Goo Ga Joob indeed.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.