Aug. 6, 2007 (St. Louis) After three weeks of heated debates and thousands of votes from around the world, the American Mustache Institute (AMI) declared Keith Hernandez the winner of its vote for the Top Sports Mustache of All Time.
Hernandez, a first baseman with the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, and Cleveland Indians from 1974 to 1990, drew 31 percent of nearly 20,000 votes, beating out Hall of Fame pitcher Rollie Fingers who drew 24 percent of the votes.
"While our certified mustacheologists share concerns that the voting may have been more about the man rather than the mustache in Keith¹s case fans of sport and mustaches have spoken," said Aaron Perlut, AMI executive director. "However, the interest spurred by this polling effort makes it clear that Americans believe the mustache is an important part of our culture. That's why the American Mustache Institute is fighting mustache discrimination and focused on bringing it back as a form of expression."
Hernandez' victory is sure to spark controversy and debate in the mustache community. The AMI had not listed him based on his controversial involvement with color-enhancing products, and the modest nature of his mustache compared to such strong Œstaches as those sported by Al Hrabosky, Rollie Fingers, and Ben Davidson.
"There was a lot of discussion about Hernandez not being on the ballot," Perlut said. "The mustache community is split on his involvement with mustache-performance enhancing drugs, but we respect our voters' opinions and are officially neutral on this touchy subject."
The winner was first announced to a crowd of 500 on Saturday night, Aug. 4th at AMI's ŒStache Bash 2007) in St. Louis a charity benefit supporting Challenger Baseball ‹a baseball league for children with disabilities. The candidacy for Hernandez was also buoyed by an appeal to voters by New York-area media including Metsblog.com.
Hernandez, Fingers, former baseball pitcher Hrabosky, and former hockey player Lanny McDonald separated themselves during the three-week voting period. Despite losing out to Hernandez, Fingers said he had enjoyed the spirited competition.
"This has been a great experience," said Rollie Fingers, the Hall of Fame closer. "I'm obviously very proud of my mustache. I actually first grew it while pitching for the Oakland A¹s in 1972.
"Reggie Jackson came to spring training intent on playing with a mustache, which at the time was unheard of in baseball," Fingers continued. "Our owner, Charlie Finley, wasn¹t thrilled about it. So he paid us $300 each to grow a mustache with hopes that if Reggie didn¹t feel like such an individual, he¹d shave it off. Well, it all caught on, it grew on Finley, and next thing you know we¹re having mustache days at the ballpark."
The final standings in the vote were as follows
- Hernandez, 31.7%
- Fingers, 23.9%
- Al Hrabosky, 12.3%
- Lanny McDonald, 10.2%
- Dale Earnhardt, 6.8%
- Hulk Hogan, 6.1%
For more about AMI, visit www.AmericanMustacheInstitute.org