Oct 28, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli flips the ball to first base for an out against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 9th inning during game five of the MLB baseball World Series at Busch Stadium. (Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports)

When did the Red Sox invent the playoff beard?

Look, it’s a fine story.

A team that comes together for the stretch run of a grueling season by growing out their beards, the ultimate signal of male unity. It’s the magic typically reserved for movies.

Lo and behold, though, it helped the Boston Red Sox not only make the playoffs, but the World Series too. With front-stage prominence and success, the power of the playoff beard is very real and it will be an agonizingly poetic symbol for years to come.

So when exactly did the Red Sox become the first team in sports history to don playoff beards?

In what is the latest slap in the face to the sport of hockey, the world has seemingly forgotten the NHL’s “second season,” the two-month slog of playoffs that features most teams sporting some sort of facial hair as they inch closer to the Stanley Cup.

The tradition actually began in 1980 as the New York Islanders were in the midst of their own run to the Cup. Since then, it has been customary for teams to ditch the razors when the playoffs come around, with championship teams looking like haggard, battle-tested warriors finally tasting the sweet fruits of their labor.

This year, the Boston Red Sox have adopted the playoff beard with great results and it wouldn’t be surprising or unfortunate to see the tradition take hold in the baseball world.

But in terms of respecting history, it needs to be noted – or perhaps drilled into some sports fans’ heads – that the Red Sox did not exactly invent the superstition.

Of course, things were bound to get out of control because baseball writing is often the most hyperbolic writing of all, and a team like the Red Sox is occasionally – just slightly – sometimes treated like the sun the rest of us just revolve around.

In other words, for them to be labeled playoff beard visionaries shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise.

That being said, baseball’s potential playoff beard bonanza can – and should – stick around (and starting them in September is the ideal move), but let’s give credit where credit is due.

Tags: Boston Red Sox Mlb Playoffs

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