Hands down, the bushiest, most gnarly beard in baseball belongs Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Brian Wilson. And he certainly can be considered among the trendsetters considering he grew his as a San Francisco Giants during the team's run to the World Series title three years ago and has hardly touched it or tamed it since.
But those scruffy, scraggly things that dangle from the chins of the Boston Red Sox?
Blame Jonny Gomes.
Boston added several new bearded stars to their lineup this season, including Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino and Gomes, a former Ray, but it's Gomes who is credited with inspiring the poor grooming habits among his teammates.
"The one common denominator with the beards, I think Jonny Gomes is probably the one who started that over there," says Gomes' former Oakland teammate Derek Norris.
"We had initially started some beards, so I'm not sure if Jon is stealing that away or is just wanting to continue it."
And far from begging its high-priced stars to pick up a razor, the team celebrates its unfortunate facial hair. Napoli has taken to a beard-tugging ritual when things on the field are going well.
"It's become one of the personality traits of this team," says John Farrell, the first-year manager who's led Boston's return to the playoffs after a three-year absence. "It's kind of gained in popularity. As much as the helmet-slapping can be commonplace, this is ours.
"I can only imagine it doesn't feel real good."
When Fenway Park hosted "Dollar Beard Night," more than 4,000 beards showed up — both the artificial and legitimate kind — with many others turned away.
"The beards are part of the camaraderie. It's almost intense," Red Sox owner John Henry said last month.
Intense, like a burning itch on your chin and neck that begs to be scratched? Quite possibly.