The sun was shining, music was blasting and clippers were buzzing this past Saturday, Sept. 24, on the Green.
The entire Pirates baseball team came together, as players shaved their heads to raise awareness for pediatric cancer. It has been an annual event for the team for the past six years.
The event took place after the team ran in the 32nd-annual Farinella 5K on Saturday morning. Then, with their heads bare and bald, the Pirates played in an alumni game that evening.
The yearly shaving brings awareness to pediatric cancer and raises donations for the Vs. Cancer Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps athletes raise funds for childhood cancer efforts.
“It’s a great opportunity for our guys to really give back and bring some awareness and raise some much-needed money for pediatric cancer,” head coach Rob Sheppard said. “It was brought to our attention from one of our players about six years ago who did it at another summer league team. Our guys embraced it, and every year it becomes an annual event for our guys.”
As the players were shaved on the Green, the spectacle drew a large crowd that held until the last player was buzzed. A table to the side was selling ‘Vs. Cancer’ t-shirts to benefit the foundation.
As many of the players waited in line for their haircuts and shaves, they watched the hair of their teammates fall to the ground. While some experienced players watched in a cool and calm demeanor, others, including freshmen and those with longer hair, watched somewhat in agony.
Some players sat in the chair and slid their fingers through their locks one last time, knowing it will be a while before that hair grows back.
While the upperclassmen only got close buzz cuts, they insisted the freshmen get “zeros,” or shaved to the head completely.
“We just want to set the example to start with the freshmen to get the lowest they can go, just to raise the awareness and set the tone for years to come,” junior utility man Chris Talbott said.
For some players, this will be the only time they spend with a barber.
“A couple guys, this is their haircut for the year, and they know next year they’re doing it again, so they grow it out and leave it,” Sheppard said. “Some guys prepare, I guess, they let it grow out.”
With the event taking place during Seton Hall Weekend, many families of the players were around to witness their sons bare their heads for a good cause.
“It’s nice,” Cheryl Prendergast, mother of senior pitcher Zach Prendergast, said. “This is his last year, so we’ve been up every year watching them do it. It’s nice to see all the boys get their hair cut, and for a good cause, so I’m very proud of them all. It’s great.”
The donations accumulated by the team this weekend for the Vs. Cancer Foundation will be expanded upon during the team’s regular season, when the Pirates hold their Strike Out Cancer weekend March 17-19.
For the players, these events stand out during the year as something they both look forward to and are happy to do. They are giving back, and no amount of hair can hold them back from that.
“It’s awesome,” Talbott said. “We’re raising awareness for pediatric cancer, and it’s the least we can do.”
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eswint22.