CINCINNATI -- Greg Vaughn can keep his goatee.
The Cincinnati Reds dropped one of their most distinctive and most widely questioned policies on Monday, allowing players to have facial hair for the 1999 season.
Former Reds general manager Bob Howsam enacted the ban in 1967, insisting his team maintain a clean-shaven look during the decade of long hair. It became so ingrained in club history that only owner Marge Schott had the authority to reverse it.
She did so on Monday after talking to Vaughn, who lobbied hard to keep his goatee after he was traded to the Reds from San Diego on Feb. 2.
"He reminded me that Schottzie (her dog) and I met him last year when he was in town," Schott said. "I told him I wanted to see him hit 50 home runs again this year and create additional enthusiasm for our fans throughout the 1999 season."
The Reds had one of the most restrictive hair policies in the major leagues. The Arizona Diamondbacks also prohibit facial hair, but manager Buck Showalter has said that newcomer Randy Johnson can keep his mustache and long hair. Other teams limit what type of facial hair a player may have.
The Reds' rule was so institutionalized that reliever Jim Kern managed to force a trade in 1982 by growing a beard. Reliever Jeff Reardon had to shave off his trademark beard when he became a Red in 1993.
A player couldn't even be shown in the media guide with facial hair. When the Reds got Wayne Krenchicki from Baltimore at the start of spring training in 1982, they took an old photograph and whited out his moustache for his biography.
Vaughn lobbied for the team to drop the rule the day of the trade, saying his two children had never seen him without the goatee. Newspaper columnists took up his cause and fans flooded the club's offices with message of support.
"The old rule was very archaic," said general manager Jim Bowden, who has a clause in his contract that bars him from changing the hair policy. "What spoke volumes was that the fans wanted us to remove the facial hair policy. They wrote letters, made phone calls, sent electronic mail, and it was overwhelming what the fans wanted."
Vaughn issued a statement thanking Schott, then declined further comment.
"I wasn't trying to rewrite any rules," Vaughn said. "I'm just more comfortable with my facial hair. My main focus now is to get ready to help this team compete for a division title."
Shaving mustaches and beards had become a spring ritual for numerous Reds players, who grew them over the winter and had to get rid of them before the first workout in spring training.
"I don't think there's any question this has been an issue over the years," Bowden said. "I've been with the Reds since '89. Over the last 11 years, there have been numerous players that wanted to have facial hair. All of them were respectful and in the end, did what ownership wanted."
Although facial hair will be allowed, players will have to maintain a clean-cut image, Schott said.
"I didn't think the facial hair policy was that big of a deal anyway because I've always played clean-shaven," said shortstop Barry Larkin, who would sometimes grow facial hair in the offseason. "I'm sure the organization is going to stress a wholesome image, and I know I wouldn't want to get away from that image."
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