The Association That’s Defending the ‘Stache

A mustache advocacy group is criticizing Don Mattingly, at one time a mustachioed New York Yankees icon, for enforcing a "no facial hair" rule as manager of his current team, the Miami Marlins. In case you're wondering, the American Mustache Institute is real, but …

Has Don Mattingly lost his way?

During his glory days in the 1980s, even nonsports people knew three things about Donnie Baseball: He played for the Yankees, he had a killer mustache, and he was once benched for refusing to cut his hair. The latter factoid was famously mocked on The Simpsons more than two decades ago.

But with his new position as manager of the Miami Marlins, Mattingly has apparently found a new perspective on the hair thing, because the Marlins have a “no facial hair” policy, and Mattingly is the guy in charge of enforcing it.

Rather than fighting it, Mattingly appears ready to criticize those who fail to follow the rule—despite the fact that the Marlins didn’t enforce the policy in the two years prior to Mattingly’s hire.

“Guys will whine. Some guys like it, some guys won’t. As long as we’re consistent, I think it’s not that big of a deal,” Mattingly told The Associated Press.


Mattingly with ‘stache in 1989; Mattingly in 2015 without one. (Jim Accordino/Wikimedia Commons; Arturo Pardavila III/Flickr)

That perspective did not sit well with the American Mustache Institute (AMI), a nonprofit advocacy group with a tongue-in-cheek mission but a genuine passion for mustaches. The group almost immediately called out Mattingly for his stance, referring to the onetime Yankees great as a “hypocritical shame to his Mustached American heritage.”

“The entire episode marks yet another dark chapter in the way the Mustached American community can often be treated,” AMI’s CEO, Dr. Adam Paul Causgrove, said in a news release. “But we will continue to fight for those who have no representation and firmly push our agenda, making the case of the power of facial hair and all that it brings to all walks of life.”

The Onion of Associations

So where’d AMI come from? You’d never find this exact description on its website, but a 2007 New York Times report notes that the group was formed by executives with the public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard as a way to both build interest in a charity baseball event sponsored by the firm and lampoon the fact that institutes exist for everything.

So AMI—while an actual charitable organization with nonprofit status, big-name sponsors, advocacy focuses, and its own events—is sort of The Onion of associations. In other words, it’s a real thing, but much of what they say is either fake, humorous, or grossly exaggerated.

Screenshot 2016-02-24 16.28.48

Next month, the group will be adding a few new members to its Mustache Hall of Fame, which currently includes a wide variety of faces, from the politically powerful (Martin Luther King Jr.) to the brilliant (Mark Twain) to the animated (Ned Flanders), and even those whose ‘staches should generally never be questioned (Freddie Mercury).

“Enshrinement into the Hall follows a deeply scientific process overseen through a partnership among the Dept. of Nuclear Mustacheology at the American Mustache Institute, the German-based Bertelsmann Foundation, the British-based Science and Technology Policy Research Institute and Wahl Trimmers,” AMI wrote on its website earlier this month. (Clearly.)

Something tells us Mattingly’s once-mighty Chevron-style ‘stache might not win a nomination this year.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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