Updated: Dec 3, 2019
The birth of a legend. (Jake is pretty great, too.)
With all the stress of the Winter Meetings, free agency, re-tooling rosters and other big decisions looming for the Cubs, we thought it might be fun to look back at the history of the fabulous facial hair of our beloved boys in blue. You love it, we love it, so let's dive into it! (Or, maybe not literally, but... well, I don't know your life!)
The golden age of baseball facial hair for the Cubs began, as with most teams, in the late 70's, with the most glorious mustachioed specimens arriving via trades or free agency. The most magnificent of the lot belonged to now legendary Cubs such as Bill Buckner, Ivan DeJesus and one of my personal favorites, Dave Kingman, the majesty of whose cookie duster was eclipsed only by the magnitude of his home runs and the frequency of his strikeouts.
The most fantastic of all, however, belonged to spectacularly named setup man Dick Tidrow, who joined the squad in 1979 after a long stint with the Yankees and brought with him a much-needed shot of follicle adrenaline.
As the 1970's came to a close, the 1980's would bring with them some of the most memorable facial hair in the history of the Cubs organization. For starters, the decade would bring the first of the Cubs' Tremendous Beards when the team traded a very young Joe Carter and Mel Hall, along with some other players to the Cleveland Indians for starting pitcher Rick Sutcliffe in June of 1984.
Don't stare at it too long! (Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune)
Sutcliffe would go 16-1 for the Cubs the rest of that year and win the Cy Young. The Red Baron's career with the team would stretch through 1991, where he was plagued off and on by injury, but the beard? Remained on point. The 80's also brought a cavalcade of fabulous 'staches that included mustache legend Dennis Eckersley, who to this day wears his 'stache like a badge of honor. And, of course, the big daddy of them all flew down from Montreal, signed a blank contract and won an MVP for a last place squad in 1987, instantly becoming the biggest lovable loser/winner in the history of Chicago sports.
The fiercest glare and 'stache of them all, my friends. (Courtesy of MLB)
Sadly, the 90's were kind of a tough time for facial hair, as grunge killed the fun of mustaches and beards and everyone tried their best to look as hot as Chris Cornell in a goatee and failed miserably. Remember when even Mark Grace grew a goatee and you could barely see it?
Wash your face next time, Gracie! (Courtesy of MLB)
For a few years into the 90's, one man stood alone in his campaign to save the Tremendous Beard. That man was clearly on a mission to prove that not only heroes wear capes--some wear pullover, v-necked Cubs jerseys.
Still, the facial hair drought in the 90's would continue in earnest on the Cubs until 1998, when the team would finally right its follicle wrongs in a huge way via free agency. Enter Rod Beck.
Pour one out for Shooter, will ya?
Beck had 51 saves for the Cubs in 1998, and also saved the team from the mundane, boring facial hair rut it had settled into. God bless you, Shooter, and RIP in peace.
The 2000's brought a sunnier facial hair outlook back to the squad. Yes, Beck left after only two seasons and guys were still sporting goatees, but at least a few of them were more interesting. Remember skunk-faced reliever Mike Remlinger? He spent approximately 2 1/2 seasons with the Cubs in the early aughts, and I swear it seemed like Dusty Baker pitched him in every single game.
Courtesy of ESPN
Kerry Wood eventually transitioned from goatee to full-on beard around the time he began looking like Christian Bale's younger baseball playing brother, and we'll give our beloved Doug Glanville a pass for his because we love him so much. Also? Derrek Lee is handsome and his perfectly manicured facial hair was extremely on brand for the manscaping trends of the decade.
Those boys notwithstanding, we all know that the 2010's have really been the best years for Cubs facial hair. The early part of the decade may not have brought us much love, but the team really hit its bearded stride once a certain starting pitcher found his slutter and grew the most majestic Tremendous Beard in the history of baseball*.
Once Jake's beard had reached full maturity, the facial hair dam broke in Cubland and we were treated to all manner of fantastic facial hair from that point on. Just think back over the past five years: Jason Hammel, Tyler Chatwood, Brandon Morrow, Wade Davis, and Jason Heyward all brought epic bearded goodness into the Cubs fold. Even Kyle Schwarber saw the error of his chin fuzz ways and went full beard when he lost weight and swoled up, joining the rest of our bearded heroes.
And of course, there was also our beloved World Series MVP.
We miss you already, Zo!
We also witnessed a member of the Cubs reach complete beard perfection. The wearer and his facial hair so completely in symbiosis that one might not even notice the beard at all--perhaps because the face itself is like staring at the sun. Still yet, the beard is there, gently caressing the face of the man we absolutely, positively should not trade. No way.
Oh hai, Sparkles! (Courtesy of the L.A. Times)
And because now it seems like a new rule that the Cubs closer must be suitably bearded, the Cubs signed Craig Kimbrel to a three year deal in 2019, bringing his garden gnome realness to the party.
Courtesy of the Chicago Sun Times and perhaps Travelocity?
Even now, the Cubs have an entire group in the minor league system working on their facial hair games, just waiting to get the permanent call to the show. The biggest star of them all being Dillon Maples, who can work the full beard, the stubble, and the 'stache with equal success. Being handsome helps, I'm sure. May he one day achieve the same mastery over his fastball command. Bless.
Maybe we'll see some deals this offseason that add even more spice to the Cubs facial hair mix. Patrick Mooney over at The Athletic has already been talking about Dallas Keuchel as a potential target ($), and we think he and his Tremendous Beard would fit in just fine.
*This is a true fact that cannot be disputed. Jake's beard is the pinnacle of Tremendous Beards. QED.