We weren't surprised. Fingers is a god. The man has 344 saves, three World Championship rings, an MVP, a Cy Young and he's one of the very few relief pitchers immortalized in the Hall of Fame. And then, of course, there's the legendary 'stache.
We were recently lucky enough to have the man himself bestow a lifetime's worth of wisdom about how to grow, maintain and generally pull off one of the most suavely sinister looks a man can sculpt with the hair on his upper lip.
The inspiration "I just wanted to be different. [The Oakland A's players] started growing mustaches in spring training in 1972, and everybody was growing regular ones, and I thought, 'What the hell, I'm going to do something a little different.' So I let the ends grow, put a little wax on it, turned it up and see what it looks like. Bingo, bango, we started winning, and I started getting guys out. Baseball players are the most superstitious animals that ever lived, and I was having a good year. Year after year we were winning and I was getting guys out, so it became tough to even think about shaving it off." How the 'stache became legend "When I first grew it in 1972, it just happened to be the season we got to the World Series, and got a lot of TV coverage. Then in 1973 against the Mets, it was the same thing. We get in the World Series again, and I have still have the handlebar mustache and people see it. The same thing happened in '74 and '75 -- we're in the playoffs four straight years and a lot of people start recognizing the mustache and attaching it to my name. I still have people come up to me and say, 'You've got a mustache just like Rollie Fingers.' They recognize the mustache before they recognize me. It happens all the time."
Doubt creeps in "I came close to shaving off the mustache one time in Baltimore. I lost both ends of a double-header on two pitches. Brooks Robinson hit a home run in the first game. Frank Robinson hit a home run in the second game. They were the only two pitches I threw and I got two loses. I had the razor right there, but decided not to. I realized at the last moment that it wasn't the mustache who gave up the two home runs. It was that I should've kept my arm up."
Glenn Hughes of The Village People (sporting what is often called a "biker handlebar")
CBS Archive / Getty Images
Prussian Minister Albrecht von Roon
Hall of Fame relief pitcher Goose Gossage
Richard Drew, AP
Bad Guy Dick Dastardly
Maintenance "It takes a lot of grooming to make it look neat. You've got to make sure hairs don't go down over your upper lip. Just make sure it's groomed with the shape in mind. You don't want the ends of the curl to get too long, and you want to make sure you got both ends trimmed to the same length of each side. Now, I can do it in my sleep, but it takes a little patience and time at first."
The appropriate length "The hair that goes into the curl is about an inch and a half. The hair that's underneath the nose should only be about a half inch, if that." Finger's favorite wax "I wax the ends with Pinaud's Mustache Wax. I've been using that for 35 years. I'm surprised they haven't called me up to do a commercial or, at least, a print ad."
Could a sweet handlebar help Manny or A-Rod's image? "I don't know if it would. They're pretty well known as it is, so I don't think a handlebar would make much difference. Jason Giambi tried it, but he got tired of it and shaved it off. It's something you've got to stay with. A lot of the guys I played with on the A's, after the got out of ball, they shaved off their mustache. I think I'm the only guy from those World Series years who still has the mustache."
On closers creating larger-than-life styles "I never really had anything like that. I just had my handlebar mustache. I think as a relief pitcher, the greatest way you can intimidate is to be successful. If you go out there and get guys out on a consistent basis, the hitters know that even before they get in the box, they've already got one strike against them. So whether they walk in with a certain song playing or bang their glove, it doesn't really matter. The guys on the other team know who's got good stuff."
You may scare kids "I was in Chicago at the airport and there was this couple in front of me and they've got a little 5-year-old girl. She keeps turning around and looking at me. And all the sudden, she turns around and kicks me right in the shins. Her parents turn around and say, 'Honey, what are you doing!' and she looks up at me and says, 'Why were you so mean to Peter Pan?' She thought I was Captain Hook. It was right around the time that movie, 'Hook' came out. I just started busting out laughing. I was just glad she didn't have pointed shoes."