The last couple weekends, the MLB Network has been showing an awful lot of games from the ’91 World Series. Like an obedient Twins fan desperate for real baseball, The Common Man has sat down and watched a few innings at a time. Aside from some surprisingly decent commentary from Tim McCarver, the thing that surprised TCM the most was how mustachioed the Twins were in ’91. Indeed, The Common Man might go so far as to speculate that the ’91 Twins won in large part because of their insane mustache power. Brian Harper rocked a mustache and a mullet. Jack Morris had a terrific bushy mustache that looked like a plant that had outgrown its pot and needed to be transferred to a bigger face. Mike Pagliarulo was signed as much for his mustache as his defense and onbase skills. Chili Davis’s mustache typically got four ABs per night. Dan Gladden sported a ridiculous blonde ‘stache for his entire playing career (making him look even grittier and more trailer-parky than he was). Even Shane Mack allowed his usually thin mustache to grow to epic, Kevin-Bass-esque proportions. He played RF in 1991 like a black Groucho Marx. In fact, the Twins’ Game 7 lineup against John Smoltz featured six mustaches (seven if we count the mustache over Puckett’s goatee). Aside from the 1972-74 Oakland A’s, The Common Man would venture to say that the 1991 Twins featured the most mustachioed World Champion in baseball’s history.
So in honor of the Twins and their manly mustaches, The Common Man has created the All Mustache team (note: 19th Century players are, sadly, excluded. It’s not even a close contest. Cap Anson, King Kelly, Harry Wright, Old Hoss Radbourne, Deacon White, and John Montgomery Ward would dominate modern mustaches to such a degree that modern stars would barely sniff the list):
Catcher: Thurman Munson
As much as The Common Man wanted to go with Harper here, there really is no doubt that Thurman Munson’s mustache thoroughly dominated the Catcher position like no mustache before or since. It could hit for average, had decent power, played terrific defense, and was team leader. Apparently, all it couldn’t do is fly a plane. (Ooh, that joke didn't feel good. Too soon?)
First Base: Don Mattingly
This is a very tough position. Mattingly’s primary competition was Keith Hernandez, another sweet fielding 1B whose mustache wasn’t quite enough to put them in the Hall of Fame. But you could make a serious argument for Eddie Murray’s fuzzy, droopy mustache too. Sid Bream emerged as a dark horse candidate the more that The Common Man watched the replays of the ’91 Series, especially because of his resemblance to the guy who used to cut TCM’s hair. But Bream’s mustache won the ’91 NLCS all by itself, and Donnie Baseball needs some consolation after he had to shave off all his sideburns. Also, his mustache looks just a little trashier, which we can all agree is important. Who wants a ride in Donnie’s Camero?
Second Base: Bobby Grich
2B is kind of a barren position, as far as The Common Man can tell. Grich and Toby Harrah went at it for this coveted spot, especially since it allows TCM to link to this terrific story (h/t to Lar at wezen-ball.com), but Grich’s mustache has gone under-appreciated for far too long. Truly, among second basemen, Grich’s mustache stands out as one of the best of all time.
Third Base: Tom Brookens
The competition for 3B was fierce. Wade Boggs (above with Mattingly) and Mike Schmidt had really strong entries. But the length and dip of Brookens mustache proved too much to overcome. While Boggs and Schmidt will have to be content to simply be two of the greatest 3B in history, Brookens’ slick-fielding ‘stache should live on forever. Textbooks should be written on the subject (The Retirement of Tom Brookens’ Mustache and the Decline of the American Auto Industry springs to mind). Also, Brookens gets extra points for his huge ‘80s glasses.
Shortstop: Rey Quinones
This position probably just feels more empty than it is. The Common Man had a lot of trouble filling this spot, and went into the recesses of his memory to pull out Rey Quinones, a bad hitting and bad fielding shortstop for the all-around bad Mariners of the late ‘80s. It’s safe to say the only reason Quinones kept his job as long as he did was a) the mustache and b) these are the 1987-89 Mariners we are talking about here. This is the team that let Edgar Martinez (then even sporting a mustache!)rot at AAA in ’88 so it could keep running (plodding?) .230/.280/.355 hitting, clean-shaven Jim Presley out there. But hey, at least Presley was terrible on defense! The ’88 Mariners had 7 players who got 300 PAs or more with an OBP below .300. Not counted, Henry Cotto finished with a .302 OBP in 418 PAs. Fun fact, Rey Quinones’s mustache DHed four times that year, even though it hit just .248/.284/.393.
Left Field: John Titus
Titus sported the last handlebar mustache in the major leagues after the turn of the 20th Century. As you can tell, he wore it proudly. If anyone was The Walrus, it was John Titus. Titus also served in the Spanish-American War and World War I, and had a career OPS+ of 127, and a .373 OBP. All of which means he was way, way, way more manly than you. Titus was called “Silent John” during his playing days, primarily because he let his mustache do all the talking.
Center Field: Dwayne Murphy
The Common Man is cheating here, mostly because he likes Dwayne Murphy, whose defense and plate discipline made him unappreciated in his day. Plus, look at how much he looks like action superstar, acting coach, and stew-enthusiast Carl Weathers.
Both were incredibly productive from the late ‘70s to the mid-80s, before losing steam. Remember, the Transitory Mustache Principle allows us to multiply the awesomeness of Murphy’s mustache (which is fair) by the awesomeness of a famous similar mustache from a similar time period (which is tremendous; remember how Carl Weathers’ mustache just kept shooting at the Predator even after his arm had been blown off?) , which makes Murphy’s mustache one of the most valuable mustaches of the era.
Right Field: Kevin Bass
From 1985-1989, Kevin Bass hit .283/.336/.439 for a 117 OPS+. His best season, 1986, he finished 7th in the MVP voting, hitting .311 with 20 HR and 33 2B, and made the All Star team. True story, in 1990, Bass and Shane Mack traded mustaches. Bass would become a part-time outfielder for the rest of his career, providing just above league-average offense. Shane Mack would go from former Olympian/failed prospect/Rule 5 pick to a .309/.375/.479 and 130 OPS+ from 1990-1994. Kevin Bass and Shane Mack: Exhibits A and B of the power of the mustache.
Starting Pitchers: Luis Tiant, Randy Johnson, Jack Morris, John Candelaria
We’re picking a four man rotation, since mustaches only need three days off. Luis Tiant’s mustache deserves a column of its own. It dominates this rotation, and continues to be a force. If Luis Tiant’s mustache put on a uniform and pitched today, it would still go 14-6 with a 3.64 ERA in 175 innings. And that mustache is 70 years old! (Note: Yes, Luis Tiant was born with a mustache. It will also continue living for 37 months after Tiant’s body dies. You got a problem with that? Talk to the mustache.) Look at how bushy it is! And yet, so precise! Luis Tiant is a man who cares about his mustache.
Randy Johnson’s mustache started out as an amusing sideshow, then it got scraggly and wild, then Johnson managed to harness it to become one of the most intimidating and effective mustaches of all time. Eventually, like all wonderful things, it made a cameo in The Simpsons.
Even though it looks like Morris took a dead gerbil and glued it to his upper lip in 1991, the mustache must have been real. After all, without that mustache, Minnesota never would have won its second World Series and no one would be trying to induct Jack Morris into the Hall of Fame. While Morris’ mustache may not be the best mustache of all time, it is indeed one of the most powerful through its shrewd manipulations and political maneuverings.
John Candelaria’s mustache is in the rotation because, let’s face it, all the mustaches on this team are pretty damn serious. We need a ridiculous mustache to keep the clubhouse light and keep the other mustaches from fighting.
Frankly, relief pitchers have always had the best mustaches. It’s not even fair. Maybe mustaches just grow faster in the bullpen (do they get more sun out there?). So The Common Man isn’t going to bother to choose here. Simply enjoy the intimidation of the Goose, the precision of Rollie, and the awkwardness of the Quiz.
And we didn't even get to Al Hrabowsky.
As always, alternate suggestions are welcome. Some mustaches may be so powerful as to have, over time, concealed themselves from ordinary human perception. Feel free to suggest your favorites in the comments below.
Update: The Common Man is ashamed to have forgotten a Designated Hitter. And what better example of hulking mustachioed awesomeness than Steve "Bye-Bye" Balboni. TCM has been effusive in his praise for Steve Balboni in the past. But since Balboni has no hope of hitting RHP, perhaps a platoon is in order. Calling Ken Phelps!