Rollie Fingers, famous for his waxed handlebar moustache, is regarded as the pioneer of modern relief pitching. During his 17-year baseball career, Rollie pitched for the Oakland Athletics (1968–76), San Diego Padres (1977–80) and Milwaukee Brewers (1981–85).
Because Fingers was inconsistent as a starter, the A’s quickly moved Fingers to the bull pen and eventually to his role as a closer. There he excelled quickly and frequently in his new role. Relying on a sharp slider, Rollie went on to notch 341 career saves.
Rollie was a member of the Oakland A’s teams that accomplished the first modern-day “three-peat”, winning the World Series in 1972, 1973 and 1974. In 1974, he won the World Series MVP Award after earning two saves and one win.
Rollie has appeared in 16 World Series games and won both the American League MVP and Cy Young Award with the Brewers in 1981. In 1992 he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Famous Moustache
In addition to his pitching ability, Rollie is also famous for his waxed handlebar moustache which he originally grew to get a $300 bonus from Athletics owner Charles O. Finley.
On the first day of spring training for the 1972 season, Reggie Jackson showed up with a beard. In protest, Fingers and a few other players started going without shaving to force Jackson to shave off his beard in the belief that management would also want Jackson to shave. Instead, Finley, ever the showman who would do anything to sell tickets, offered prize-money to the player who could best grow and maintain their facial hair until Opening Day on April 15 against Minnesota. Fingers went all-out for the monetary incentive offered by Finley and patterned his moustache after the images of the players of the late 19th century. Taking it even further, Finley came up with “Moustache Day” at the ballpark, where any fan with a moustache could get in free.
Catfish Hunter and Ken Holtzman also went for the bonus, but Rollie, with his Snidely Whiplash, took the prize. The players would become known as the “Moustache Gang”.
Although most former A’s players shaved their handlebar moustaches after the team traded most of their players in 1975–76, Rollie maintained his after signing with the San Diego Padres and still has the moustache today.