Reigning American League Cy Young winner, lefty David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays, is an honorable and distinguished man. And he likes his facial hair too much to ink a deal with the New York Yankees in the future:
Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price wants no part of old-school Yankees and team’s no facial hair policy
Plenty of Yankee acquisitions through the years — such as Lou Piniella, Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Randy Johnson, Nick Swisher — have traded whiskers for winning
By Mark Feinsand / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 1:47 PM
TAMPA — Money talks, facial hair walks.
That has been the case with the Yankees for the past 40 years or so, as one player after another has gladly accepted the team’s riches in exchange for a meeting with a razor.
David Price, the reigning American League Cy Young award winner, wants no part of it.
The Rays lefty, who is still nearly three years away from free agency, said Tuesday that the Yanks should never bother looking his way, because he will take his beard over the Bronx any day of the week.
“I wouldn’t stay there very long then,” he responded. “I wouldn’t sign a long-term deal there. Those rules, that’s old-school baseball.”
Actually, it’s Boss baseball.
The policy, put into place by George Steinbrenner when he purchased the Yankees in 1973, says players can’t sport facial hair below the lip and their hair must be above the collar.
Plenty of Yankee acquisitions through the years — such as Lou Piniella, Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Randy Johnson, Nick Swisher — have traded whiskers for winning.
“I think people understand the rules when they get here,” Derek Jeter said. “We’ve had a lot of guys that had facial hair, came here and cut it.”
Jeter smirked when informed of Price’s comments, although the Captain didn’t seem convinced.
“Do you really think some player would say no, all things considered, if it was a good deal for them?” Jeter said. “I’m not talking about his situation, but if it was a good deal for a player, I’m pretty sure most guys — maybe not all guys — would have no trouble shaving.”
Still, Price seemed committed to his thin beard, adding, “I was born in ’85. That’s (facial hair rule) not for me. That’s not something I want to be a part of.”
Though Price can’t become a free agent until the end of the 2015 season, he could find himself wearing a new uniform before then. Like James Shields, who was traded by Tampa Bay this winter despite being under team control for two more seasons, Price — who will earn slightly more than $10 million this season — may eventually become too expensive for the Rays to keep.
But the 27-year-old has enjoyed the freedom granted to Rays players by manager Joe Maddon, who doesn’t impose any restrictions on music in the clubhouse, attire on travel days or — most notably — facial hair.
“It’s a joke to me, that I had less rules in college than I would on some major league teams,” Price said. “That’s not my style, man. I couldn’t do it on some of these teams I hear about. I couldn’t do it. I’m a grown man.”
Kevin Youkilis was easily identified by his bushy goatee during his previous nine seasons in the big leagues, but the third baseman never thought twice about his facial hair when he agreed to sign with the Yankees in December.
“People joked with me, ‘You’re going to have to shave!’ ” Youkilis said. “I said, ‘I’ll shave every day before and after BP if it means I can win the World Series.’ There are some limits to what I’ll do in life — quite a few, actually — but for me, personally, it never even dawned on me.”
Like his former Red Sox teammate Damon, who ditched his Boston caveman look after signing with the Yankees, Youkilis knew he would have to show up to camp clean-shaven.
“It’s part of the business. If you’re a competitor and you want to play for a winning organization, you’re going to do what you have to do,” Youkilis said. “Everyone is entitled to your own opinion. If David wouldn’t want to adapt to it, I guess that’s his choice. When he’s a free agent, there’s one team off his list now.”
Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly and Goose Gossage all found themselves in The Boss’ crosshairs over their grooming habits at some point during their careers, although Piniella may have had the most memorable encounter with Steinbrenner when it came to his clean-cut policy.
When Piniella was traded from the Royals to the Yankees before the 1974 season, he reported to the Bombers’ spring facility in Fort Lauderdale with his hair below the collar. Piniella was informed that he would have to cut his hair in order to receive his uniform, so the fiery outfielder went to see the owner himself.
“I said, ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ had long hair, and things seemed to work out for him,’ ” Piniella said. “He said, ‘Come with me.’ We walked across the street to the Fort Lauderdale swimming pool and he said, ‘If you can walk on water, you can wear your hair any way you want.’ ”
Perhaps Price will someday have similar discussions with Yankee brass about his grooming habits.
“Maybe it means a lot to him,” Jeter said. “I don’t know.”