One of the game's great mustaches is no more.
Keith Hernandez's famous facial hair met its end Thursday afternoon during a public shaving that drew hundreds of gawkers in front of Citi Field. The final cuts came just a few minutes before high noon, when the former Mets star and current SNY analyst brushed the remnants of his famous 'stache off his lap. The freshly shaven former first baseman stood to show off his new look to a crowd that began gathering 45 minutes before the event.
"I feel like I'm on the guillotine here,'' Hernandez said after settling into the chair, drawing a roar from the crowd.
On an elevated platform, workers brought in a barber pole, a chair and a table on which to rest the tools of the pending 'stache slash. They included towels, shaving cream, a razor and a metal basin to hold water. Elliott Chester, the Las Vegas-based barber to the stars, flew in to do the honors. He dressed in all black.
"Am I nervous?'' Hernandez said from the stage. "No.''
As the hour neared, the crowd grew, steadily stretching toward the subway. They had come to see an end. When Chester heightened the suspense -- trimming the areas around Hernandez's mustache -- they groaned.
"The natives are getting restless,'' Hernandez said, his back in the chair, his face pointed toward the sky.
Hernandez has been named an All-Star more times (five) than he has shaved his mustache (three). But when the hair-coloring company "Just For Men'' ended the ad campaign that featured Hernandez and his mustache, the time had come for a change. He had been under contractual obligation to color his mustache. No longer bound by his contract, Hernandez let the mustache go gray, a signal that its days were numbered.
Schick Hydro donated $10,000 for the honor of providing the tools that ended an era for the award-winning mustache. The money will go to the Jacquelyn Hernandez Adult Day Health Center in Brooklyn for patients with Alzheimer's disease, the ailment to which Hernandez's mother succumbed. With a good cause in place, Hernandez arrived as scheduled at 11:45 a.m. His mustache came along, too. It was in fine form, perfectly trimmed, dignified, gray.
It once was named the best sports mustache ever by the American Mustache Institute in 2007 as a write-in candidate several weeks after it won Newsday's "Mustache Madness" contest. It also appeared in a 1992 episode of "Seinfeld."
And within minutes, it was gone, reduced to mere whiskers in the wind.
It is survived by Hernandez, 58, who committed to remaining clean-shaven for the rest of the season (seven games). He will use the offseason to decide whether the mustache will live again.
In a statement released by Schick Hydro, Hernandez lamented what he called "a difficult decision.''
"I want to thank all my fans who supported my mustache over the years,'' Hernandez said in the statement, prepared on behalf of his mustache. "But it's time for it to take a back seat and give my upper lip some time to shine.''