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July 19, 2007 at 3:14 am ET
‘Fro Sho': Baseball’s Best Afros

The batting helmet hasn't been assembled that could conquer that.Just about every hair style known to man has been worn by major league players at one time or another. From mullets to shaved heads to Dock Ellis rocking curlers — we’ve witnessed and documented it all.

It’s cyclical, you see, and with big hair making a comeback throughout “The Show” it is time to pay homage to one of histories great ‘do’s — equally fascinating and underrated — the afro.

Grab those butterfly collars and plaid slacks ’cause it’s time to take a stroll down memory lane with baseball’s best ‘fros.

OF — The Pasture of Putouts and Picks

LF — Dmitri YoungLike a Chia Pet with a cap.

“Da Meat Hook” has scaled it back quite a bit the past couple seasons but there was a time when you had to wonder if the man just rolled out of bed, looked in the mirror and smiled with a nod, “Hell, yeah. That’s even better than yesterday.”

CF — Oscar Gamble

Sparky Anderson once said he wouldn’t want to embarrass any catcher by comparing him to Johnny Bench and that premise applies here, as well. There’s simply no comparison. It’s not even close. The owner of baseball’s greatest afro is, was, and ever shall be Oscar Charles Gamble. Don’t believe us — check out that picture with the Tribe.

RF — Bake McBride

PICK me out a winner, Bobby.The lanky outfielder helped the Phils to their only World Series win in 1980 and hit .299 for his career and it was ’cause of the hair, homie. You can always judge a ‘fro by its escapability — it’s refusal to be contained. Bake’s just looked like it would do anything to launch that helmet into orbit. Had he had an earflap, it would have crawled through the hole — what does that tell you? You guessed it: bad-ass bouffant.

Around the Horn with Hair Combs

3B — Enos Cabell

Our man at the hot corner wasn’t much of a hitter but could he ever pick it. Only problem was it was in the clubhouse instead of on the field. Let’s face it, a .944 fielding percentage at third isn’t exactly gettin’ it done but when he left the park at night his ‘fro – was gettin’ it done!

SS — Ozzie Smith

Before the “Wizard” did the cartwheel and backflip that landed him in St. Louis, the Hall of Fame shorstop sported a fully operational Death Star under the brown and yellow abomination that was the San Diego Padres hat. Remember that diving, barehanded stop of a ball that struck a pebble back in the day? It looks even more impressive now when you consider the neck strength is must have required to balance the bulk of hair Smith was carting around.

2B — Rodney ScottAfros aren't aerodynamic, my ass!

Scott must not have had the neck muscle Ozzie had ’cause he wasn’t much with the stick, but Dick Williams once referred to him as “the most valuable .224 hitter in baseball.” And that was because Rodney’s hair didn’t weigh him down on the basepaths. Flat out — my man could run — 63 stolen bases in 1980 and more than 200 in just eight seasons.

1B — Eddie Murray

As if a great ‘fro weren’t enough, Murray went ahead and provided baseball with, perhaps, the best chops of all-time as well. Take one look at Murray in the late ’70s and early ’80s and tell me he didn’t look like Jules from Pulp Fiction. Go ahead, I dare you. That’s why he was so surly with the media all those years — some reporter asked for a foot massage and he made like Caine from Kung Fu and just walked the earth.

Afro-Puffs Behind the Plate

Get the gear and super size that bad boy!C — Bobby Kielty

You know what, it’s not about putting the best defender at any one position here, this is about the hair, people! For lack of a better candidate we’re going to pull the A’s outfielder off the bench and toss him behind the plate because, let’s face it, the only man on earth with a fuller, more impressive head of orange freakin’ hair is Ronald McDonald.

Mane Men On the Mound

SP — Don Sutton

The 300-game winner had, and still has, hair that would make Richard Simmons jealous. Whether he was on the hill or in the studio shooting an episode of Match Game, Sutton rocked those curls that just couldn’t help but puff out into that classic ‘fro.Well, thank you.  I use Prell.

RP — Lee Smith

The closer’s early years looked like a cross between Ben Wallace and Philip Michael Thomas. From that long, cool stroll out of the bullpen to that relaxed tone of voice, everything about Smith was pimp. Whether it was manhandling a one-two-three save or managing his ‘fro, Lee Smith was all about style and perfection.

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10 Responses to “‘Fro Sho': Baseball’s Best Afros”
  1. Drano says:

    The question is this: Since Don Sutton also had straight hair earlier on, was he getting it relaxed then, or did he get a perm later? What about Steve Carlton? Gary Carter? Mike Brady?

    Dmitri Young is just a slob. I doubt the guy bathes. I had seats right behind the visiting dugout at a Mets game one time and Young strolled out with food stains on his ill-fitting uniform. Needless to say I couldn’t resist chanting “Piiiigpen…piiiigpen!” when he was batting, but he had a couple of hits anyway in the reds loss.

  2. ya seen Coco Crisp’s afro lately? He’s kicking it with a receding hairline. He looks like the comedian Steven Wright. Ya know, if Wright were black.

  3. the butler says:

    wonder why they called him “Bake”?

  4. Nixon7 says:

    Why did they call “Bake”???? – A picture speaks a thousand words my friend

  5. Nixon7 says:

    He even has a batting glove on the wrong hand

  6. JGraham says:

    How ’bout some love for Rick Cerone behind the plate!!

  7. The captions and explanations are good, but the pictures say it all. Nice work.

  8. nick says:

    I know it’s been commented on before but Bake McBride…Wow…He deserves an automatic place in the afro hall of fame just like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb have an automatic place in the real hall

  9. MMM says:

    Pinch hitter – Jose Cardinal

  10. Drano says:

    Somebody please tell me why dudes were getting perms in the ’70’s!

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