Of Taters and
Reggie Jackson slugs the former and everybody sports the latter on his upper lip as the talent-rich Oakland A's rip through their division
by Ron Fimrite
Excerpt from June 19, 1972
In baseball, as in anything else, appearances can be deceiving. Take the Oakland A's. Mustachioed to a man, they might easily be mistaken in a hotel lobby for six barbershop quartets, the world's largest rock group or the centennial celebration committee of the Carson City, Nev., Junior Chamber of Commerce. On the field, turned out in their stunning new ensembles of Kelly green, California gold and polar bear white, they could as well be a celebrity softball team or a barnstorming religious sect. But beneath all that bristle and tinsel they are, in real life, the best team now playing in the American League and, in the opinion of their winningest pitcher, National League migrant Ken Holtzman, possibly the best team in baseball.
The mustaches, which expose them to the japes of clean-shaven opponents, are simply another manifestation of Owner Charles O. Finley's prepubescent sense of humor. On the return flight from a series in Boston, Finley observed that Outfielder Reggie Jackson and several bullpen pitchers were sporting fresh foliage. What, Finley asked Jackson, is going on around here? Jackson explained that this year he decided to keep the mustache he normally grows in the off-season. The others, he said, were not so much stylistic disciples as put-on artists seeking to embarrass him into shaving. Finley, always one to appreciate a joke, was intrigued. Why, he asked himself, have a team only half shorn? Why not an all-mustache team? Or a stadium filled with mustachioed men, women and children? The result of this encounter was Finley's decision to hold a Mustache Day on Father's Day at the Oakland Coliseum, a logical successor to his earlier Bald Headed Day. For his participation in this attraction, each player with a full upper lip will be rewarded with a bonus of $300. Holtzman's response to his boss' brainstorm bespoke the majority's. "For $300," he said, "I would grow hair on my feet."