The MLB offseason hasn’t quite gotten going yet, with the World Series still yet to be played, so we’re weeks away from seeing any official player movement. Despite that, the Oakland A’s have already suffered their first loss of the winter. On Thursday, the team announced that pitcher Daniel Mengden shaved off his handlebar mustache.
Of course, this particular style of stache has a deep history with the A’s, as Hall of Fame closer Rollie Fingers famously grew one as part of the Mustache Gang in the 1970s and still wears it to this day. Impressive facial hair can earn attention anywhere, but these handlebars on this team were especially appropriate.
Mengden's mustache is elite (but the ticker strikes again) pic.twitter.com/1JfpkOMEKW— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) July 3, 2019
Mengden already had his mustache when Oakland acquired him from Houston in July 2015, and it immediately endeared him to the fans, especially when paired with his funky, old-timey delivery on the mound. He was a solid pitching prospect in his own right, and he made good on that stock by working his way up to the majors the next year, but the fun whiskers helped set him apart even further and made him that much more memorable. It was one of the most interesting things about that year’s last-place A’s team.
Mengden's mustache is perhaps the best thing to happen to the A's this season.— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) June 11, 2016
Four years later, the right-hander hasn’t managed to cement himself in the starting rotation. He’s racked up nearly 300 innings in the bigs and had his moments, including tossing a couple shutouts, but he’s also bounced up and down to the minors and spent some time on the injured list. He’s been only slightly above the replacement-level hoi polloi, which on its own might be forgettable, but fans will always remember the guy with the Rollie stache no matter what.
White Sox facing Daniel Mengden and his handlebar mustache tonight.— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) April 16, 2018
He's got a funky delivery. He also gave up Yoan Moncada's first career hit. An RBI double. pic.twitter.com/TKrFiKQCMo
Alas, time goes on and things change. I really can’t blame Mengden for moving on from the stache — as much fun as it is for all of us to see every five days when he starts, it could easily get boring for the wearer after enough years. And if I was an athlete who made it all the way to the top level of my sport, I might prefer to be known for that accomplishment than for my interesting facial hair. Perhaps one day we’ll learn the full story about what factors went into this decision.
Here’s an updated look at Mengden (via Twitter).
Of course, facial hair can always grow back, so perhaps one day Mengden will experiment again. In the meantime, though, we all got to enjoy the handlebars for several years and we’ll always have those memories of a fun baseball thing.
The handlebar mustache is gone. Long live the handlebar mustache.
Previously in A’s facial hair news: Mike Fiers cat-tail beard appreciation post