New York Yankees Have Had Appearance Policy Since 1976

Published on December 23rd, 2022 5:14 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

The story behind the New York Yankees appearance policy.  In photo: Derek Jeter. If you sign with the New York Yankees as a free agent, you must adhere to their "appearance policy".

Wear a beard, as many players do in this day and age? That's no good - it has to go.

Wear your hair down past your collar? That's no good - you'd have to trim it.

Have a moustache?

That's ok.


Gerrit Cole was a prized free agent and eventually decided to sign with the New York Yankees.

During his time with the Houston Astros, Cole liked to wear a beard.

When he signed with the Yankees and started playing for the team, that beard came off.

Other players that have made significant changes to their appearances after signing with the Yankees include Johnny Damon, Randy Johnson and Jason Giambi, to name a few.

This is the result of the Yankees "appearance policy", which was first formalized in 1976 and remains in place to this day.

George Steinbrenner, who owned the franchise at the time, thought that maintaining a clean appearance would instill a "sense of discipline".

Steinbrenner had served in the Air Force and was a firm believer that maintaining a groomed appearance was important to maintain discipline.

Moustaches were ok, but beards were not, and all hair had to be trimmed so that it didn't reach the collar.

Long sideburns and "mutton chops" were also specifically banned (this has been changed and sideburns are no longer specifically outlawed).

This policy has led to tensions in the past.

One such incident involved Don Mattingly, who famously refused to get a haircut during the 1991 season.

The Yankees benched Mattingly for a game and fined him, before things were eventually smoothed out.


Some players have said that they would never sign with the Yankees due to their grooming policy.

Other players have complained about the policy, though only after leaving the team.


The Yankees continue to enforce this policy and don't appear to be inviting change anytime soon.

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