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Dallas Keuchel, James Harden are bearded brethren

This composite image shows Houston Astros pitcher Dallas

This composite image shows Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel, left, and Houston Rockets guard James Harden. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke, AP / David J. Phillip

Big beards on athletes are nothing special these days, but no city can boast a pair as prominent as Houston, where the Astros' Dallas Keuchel and the Rockets' James Harden both are hugely important figures for their teams.

Keuchel, a pitcher who will start for the Astros against the Yankees Tuesday night in the American League wild-card game, said before Monday's workout that he met Harden for the first time when the Rockets guard threw out the ceremonial first pitch before a Sept. 23 Astros game.

Harden called him "my fellow bearded brother" that night.

"We really didn't talk about our beards," Keuchel said. "I think that's just kind of known. But I'll just say what a pleasure it was to meet him and obviously he's one of the best players on the planet.

"Anytime he'll allow me to go over to the Toyota Center, maybe shoot some hoops, it will be greatly appreciated. He had a pretty nasty cutter that he threw me up there, that first pitch."

Keuchel said he mostly goes unnoticed on the streets of New York, other than by experts.

"The autograph-seekers definitely know who I am," he said. "And that kind of gets a little tiring after a while. But, I mean, I prefer to go unnoticed.

"I don't have the beard to be noticed. It's just I can't let it go right now. But Manhattan is so big that I'm just another Joe."

New York Sports