Of the many unfortunate facial hair patterns out there (and as we’ve seen, they are legion) the Fu Manchu will always hold a special place in baseball’s UFH pantheon. The craze began in earnest in 1975, when seven members of the Brewers sported the look, and has never quite died out. Favored mostly by catchers and relief pitchers, the Fu Manchu has become a hardball classic, as much a part of the game as cracker jack, pine tar, and organ music. To salute this time-honored ‘stache, UmpBump presents the top five Fu Manchus of all time:
5. Mike Piazza, Catcher and DH, 1992-present
Mike Piazza gets a nod for his daring interpretation, whittling the ends of the Fu into these sharp little points, not unlike the fangs of some venomous snake. Pairing it with a blow-dryed “Just for Men”-esque coiffure, Mike looks downright dapper.
4. Todd Jones, Reliever, 1993-present
Todd Jones gets a nod for his painstakingly parabolic Fu, which looks like he sculpted it with a protractor. Extra points for the russet coloring.
3. Sal Fasano, Catcher, 1996-present
Few have done as much for the Fu Manchu as Sal Fasano. But it could be argued that the Fu has done almost as much for Sal. Without it, he’d be just another aging backup catcher flirting with Triple A. But with it, he’s a cult hero with his own fan club (Sal’s Pals). Indeed, as this picture shows, Sal clearly views his Fu as more than just facial hair…it’s a calling.
2. Rod Beck, reliever, 1991-2004
Rod Beck, may he rest in peace, had a classic Fu: thick and lustrous, sloping evenly down from either nostril, flaring slightly at the base but not at all bulbous, like Fasano’s. What’s more, the fearless Beck paired this beaut with a brash cascade of mullet. But even this wasn’t quiiiite enough to win him the top spot, which goes to…
1. Al Hrabosky, reliever, 1970-1982
The best baseball Fu Manchu ever belongs to none other than Al Hrabosky, who pushed the form to new heights with this flourishing, asymmetrical endeavor. Indeed, one almost wonders if the asymmetry is caused by the moustache simply growing too fast for Hrabosky to contain. It’s as if Al were some sort of Fu Manchu prodigy—while others struggled to produce a Fu of even mediocre caliber, Hrabosky was naturally well-endowed. During the 1977 season, Hrabosky was forced to shave his glory as part of a new team dress code. It’s no coincidence that “the Mad Hungarian,” as he was known, went on to have a terrible season during which his ERA ballooned to 4.38.
A Fu Manchu with Samsonlike powers? No wonder it’s our Number One.