About 20 months ago, the White Sox and Astros met on baseball grandest stage with the World Series championship at stake.
Friday night, the two teams meet again at U.S. Cellular Field but with a drastically different backdrop. Houston, welcome to “Mullet Night” on the south side of Chicago.
The way both teams have played so far this year, it’s actually a good thing to have some focus taken away from the game on the field and into the stands. And while it’s easy to dismiss the night as just another way the Sox organization is selling out to make a buck like their start time brought to you by 7-11 or their Giordano’s delivery of the game, baseball and mullets have a rich history together which is worthy of a night of recognition.
In that spirit, I’ve put together an “All Mullet Team” to celebrate/ridicule baseball’s finest players that proudly sported the trailer park look for the majority of their playing careers.
Before I start, I’d like to apologize in advance to Gary Sheffield and Ozzie Guillen for the lack of African-American or Latino players on this list. Just so you know, I did consider the likes of Bake McBride, Juan Gonzalez and Vinny Castilla for this list.
Starting pitcher #1 – Randy Johnson
Signing with the Yankees was the biggest mistake the Big Unit made during his career. Not only because he never fit in with the club and pitched progressively worse every year in the Big Apple, but because he was forced to chop the mullet in order to don the pinstripes. Losing the mullet seemed to correspond directly with losing games in New York.
Now that he’s back in Arizona, he’s pitching better and should consider reinventing the mullet. At 42 though, it could take a while.
Starting pitcher #2 – Moose Haas
The first of several former Milwaukee Brewers to make the team, Haas looked pretty much exactly like what you’d expect a guy named Moose Haas to look like. Haas also was one heckuva pitcher. He went 91-79 over his career with the Brew Crew and won his first six starts with Oakland before running into elbow problems which would end his career prematurely.
Starting pitcher #3 – Pete Vuckovich
Those Brewers teams from the ’80’s were full of mullets as you will find as you read. However, Vuckovich makes this list more for his appearance as an actor than for the mullet he sported on the field. Under the stage name “Peter Vuckovich,” the burly right-hander played power-hitting first baseman Clue Haywood in Major League.
“You really hit the sh*! outta that one” was one of several great quotes from Vuckovich in the most quotable movie in the history of all movies.
Starting pitcher #4 – Mike Flanagan
The ace of the 1979 American League champion Baltimore Orioles came into the league with a full-fledged mullet in the mid-70’s. While it got more respectable later in his career, he still makes a great pick for this team. He also was one of the most underrated pitchers of his time.
Starting pitcher #5 – Zane Smith
Zane Smith’s mullet was more of a pretty boy mullet than the other starters but it was a mullet no less. Unlike many mullets that are born out of laziness or being too cheap to spend money on a haircut, Smith’s mullet was a shiney, well-kept mane throughout his career. Unfortunately, no amount of shampoo in the world could get the Pirates and Smith past the Braves in the NLCS.
Lefty Closer – Mitch Williams
While Vuckovich acted in the movie Major League, Williams loosely had a character modeled after him. Charlie Sheen’s Ricky Vaughn shared a nickname, 99 mph heater and a #99 jersey with Williams. Sheen’s bizarre haircut was no match for Williams’s mullet though.
After a short tenure as Lee Smith’s successor as the Cubs closer, Williams came into his own in the mullet-infested locker room of the Phillies in the early 1990’s. After giving up a World Series-clinching homer to Joe Carter, his career never recovered.
Right-handed closer – Rod Beck
Anyone that parks his motor home outside of a minor league ballpark while trying to break back into the big leagues has to be on this team. Beck certainly had the raggedly hair to qualify his as well. “Shooter” had some phenomenal seasons as a closer with both the Giants and the Cubs. But he’ll probably be most remembered for his stint in Des Moines and subsequent return to the big leagues with the Padres.
Catcher – Sal Fasano
The only active player to make this list and probably the least talented. But I give him special credit for choosing the hairstyle when it’s not the least bit in style. He cemented his spot on the list by bunting for a base hit Jake Taylor-style last weekend against the White Sox. I didn’t realize how many guys had mullets in Major League until I started writing this.
First Base – John Kruk
Amazingly, Kruk’s mullet hasn’t kept him from enjoying a career in television as an analyst on Baseball Tonight. Kruk has found a way to make both his mullet and his gut work to his advantage with a careless but effective sense of humor. Baseball Tonight seems to have a thing for the mullet though as both Jeff Brantley and Rob Dibble would have to receive honorable mention on this list.
Second Base – Jim Gantner
When in doubt, look to the Brewers of the 1980’s. There were some other marginal candidates, but no one comes close to the mullet of Gantner historically among second basemen. A modest hitter, Gantner was a solid defender and knew his role on this team of heavy hitters.
Shortstop – Robin Yount
Mr. Brewer and you can make a case for Mr. Mullet after 20 full seasons with the Brew Crew from 1974 to 1993. Yount was a two-time MVP and 1999 Hall of Fame inductee. That being said, his curly blonde mullet was one of a kind. Although he spent the second half of his career in the outfield, at shortstop seems like the perfect place for one of the greatest players to ever play the game with or without a mullet.
Third Base – George Brett
A tough call between him and several others, he gets the nod because he was actually nicknamed “mullet” by his teammates early in his career. Brett only wore the style in the early years, but he took the gritty attitude that often accompanies it throughout his entire playing career.
Left Field – Rob Deer
The final member from the Brewers but certainly not the least. He gets the slight nod over fellow Brewer Gorman Thomas. Stormin’ Gorman just had hair everywhere but Deer had a true mullet. His all or nothing stroke make him a lock for the squad as well.
Center Field – Dan Gladden
Eric Byrnes wishes he was as cool as Dan Gladden. An underrated member of the Twins championship teams in both 1987 and 1991, Gladden always brought 110 percent effort to the field. Due to some guy named Kirby Puckett, he spent the majority of his career in left field. On this team full of beerguts though, I’ll take Gladden in center.
Right Field – Larry Walker/Dante Bichette platoon
Both of these guys were pretty clean-cut with their original teams. But after arriving with the expansion Colorado Rockies, both decided to become mountain men by growing mullets. Their styles were quite a bit different though. Bichette wore a wide mullet across the entire nape of his neck while Walker preferred a skinny mullet that could almost be considered a ducktail. I give Bichette the better mullet while Walker was a much better player.
Honorable mention: Gorman Thomas, Magglio Ordonez, Sid Bream, Kirk Gibson, Dickie Thon, Carney Lansford, Kevin Hickey, Darren Daulton, Kelly Gruber, Mickey Morandini, and Scott Radinsky.