When Orioles rookie Hunter Harvey made his long-awaited major league debut Saturday at Fenway Park, the star-crossed pitcher introduced himself and his 99 mph fastball.
It was also the first time a major league audience got a look at his mullet, which was praised by both teammates and manager Brandon Hyde upon his arrival as a “show hairdo” before his arm proved to be show-worthy all the same.
“I’ve always liked having long hair, and I hate when it comes hanging over my ears,” said Harvey, long considered one of the Orioles’ top pitching prospects. “So I was like, ‘Alright, let’s shave the side and leave it in the back so it looks good in a hat.’ That’s what we did.”
The first time Harvey did it was in his breakout first full professional season at Low-A Delmarva in 2014. The 2013 first-round draft pick dazzled that year with a 3.18 ERA in 17 starts, but the haircut teammate Jeff Kemp gave him in the clubhouse bathroom was a stunner in a different way.
“It was pretty bad, but I rocked it,” Harvey said.
“Everybody thought it was just hilarious, to just be honest with you. He cut it in the bathroom, and it was all messed up. It just looked crazy. But it was fun.”
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Since then, he’s had a friend from home cut it to his specifications. He’d typically get rid of it before spring training in lieu of a more traditional haircut to conform with the Orioles’ hair policy. But if he had the mullet later in the year, it would have been hidden away at the team facility in Sarasota, Florida, as he rehabilitated from elbow surgery and shoulder injuries in years past.
“This year, I let it ride all year,” Harvey said. “It’s just how I’ve been wearing it.”
It’s the type of haircut that he knows will draw attention, but so far, Harvey has backed it up.
“I figured it’d get a little bit of attention because it’s a crazy hairdo, but I’m enjoying it,” he said.
Outside the Orioles, it might remind observers of Kenny Powers, the mulleted star of HBO’s “Eastbound and Down.” Inside the clubhouse, the comparisons are to the mullet of former Orioles starter Andrew Cashner.
The two crossed paths this weekend, as Cashner was traded to the Boston Red Sox last month for a pair of prospects. Cashner took Harvey under his wing the last few spring trainings, but the haircut preceded that. And it didn’t come up when the two caught up with each other at Fenway Park.
“I think it’s way better than Cashner’s,” Harvey said. “That’s what everybody has told me. … I didn’t talk to him too much about it. He’s seen it, he loves it, but from what I heard, it’s better.”