BRUCE SUTTER (above) is the first pitcher to get into the Hall of Fame without starting a game--and will be the first player to sport a full beard on his Hall plaque. Hirsute athletes dominated the news last week as woolly jawed Jake Plummer (right) and bushy-faced Ben Roethlisberger (left) guided the Broncos and the Steelers, respectively, to the AFC Championship Game. Before thousands of requests roll in, here's a brief look at the wide world of sports whiskers.
After signing with the Yankees, Johnny Damon loses the Jesus look that made him a heartthrob in Boston. His short haircut and close shave please The Boss. Ditto for Damon's wife: "I think he looks better with less hair on his face."
After sitting out a season to study holistic medicine and smoke pot, Ricky Williams returns to the Dolphins--with his lumberjack chin growth. Says one teammate, "He looks like a little homeless guy."
Former Rangers reliever Jim Kern, who shaved to comply with team rules when traded to the Reds before the season, starts regrowing his beard. "If it means a fight, it'll be a fight," he says. It means a trade: Two weeks later Kern gets shipped to the more permissive White Sox.
The Battle of the Beards: Centers Bill Walton (Blazers) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lakers) duke it out for the Western Conference title. Walton sweeps the series and leads Portland to the NBA championship, but the well-groomed Abdul-Jabbar gets the sartorial edge. "My beard is so nasty," Walton once said. "It's the only beard in the history of Western civilization that makes Bob Dylan's beard look good."
"Cowboy" Bill Flett, who paved the way for the NHL's playoff beard tradition with his unruly fuzz, helps the Flyers win the Stanley Cup. The beard wasn't Flett's only cowboy affectation: He later wore spurs on his skates for old-timers' games.
Outfielder Garry Maddox debuts with the Giants--and gets a medical dispensation from the team's antibeard rules because a skin condition makes shaving painful. He was granted the same exemption while serving in the Army in Vietnam.
The House of David, a popular barnstorming team fielded by a conservative Christian sect, plays the country's first night baseball game, in Independence, Kans. Five o'clock shadow wasn't a worry for the David players--their religion forbade shaving.