Roland Glen “Rollie” Fingers (Born August 25, 1946), follows last week’s induction of Learned Hand in that it involves a man with a “handy” name whose reputation relied largely on what he did with his dexterous digits. But unlike Hand, who possessed beautiful (and bountiful) eyebrows, Fingers is famous for his handlebar mustache.
Rollie (pronounced “raw-lee”) had an exceptional 18-year career as a right-handed relief pitcher for the Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, and Milwaukee Brewers, compiling a 114-118 record with 341 saves, 944 games pitched, and a magnificent 2.90 ERA. These statistics garnered him a well-deserved induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1992, and he remains one of the only relief pitchers to be so honored.
Although his pitching statistics and the way he revolutionized modern relief pitching are noteworthy, it is for his handlebar mustache that Fingers will likely be best remembered.
Fingers originally grew the ‘stache in order to get a $300 bonus ($300! My how professional sports has changed) from zany and controversial Athletics owner Charlie O. Finley, who offered the prize to the player who could best grow and maintain his mustache at the start of the 1972 season, in an attempt to sell more tickets (Finley even had a “Mustache Day” at the ballpark that year, where anyone with a mustache was granted free entry).
Fingers, of course, won the contest (how could he not?), but, unlike the rest of his teammates, who shaved off their facial hair shortly after, Fingers kept the mustache, and it became his trademark. When offered a contract by the Cincinnati Reds (who had a “clean cut” policy for players) at the end of his career, Fingers responded to the offer by saying “Well, you tell [Reds owner] Marge Schott to shave her Saint Bernard, and I’ll shave my mustache.”
Whether it was by gaining the upper hand on opposing batters or growing a mustache that is more than a hair above the rest, the 6’4” Rollie Fingers stands tall in the pantheon of professional ballplayers.
Next week, we will be unveiling a new page on our blog: Funny Names Theory. This page will compile all of the theories that we, some of the world’s most eminent nameophiles, have developed in an effort to advance the rapidly-growing scientific field of funnynameology. To celebrate this unveiling, we will be posting previews of some of our theories over the weekend. The best part: in recognition of your enlightened readership (and leadership), you get to choose the theories we preview – but only based on their names.