Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel is well-known for making some great plays, but there’s something else about him that people have been noticing — his hair. Throughout the playoffs, Gurriel has put his spiky hair on display, wearing his wild locks loud and proud, and making people wonder just how he has achieved such a look.
On Tuesday night, the 33-year-old baseball star played in one of the biggest games of his career as the Houston Astros took on the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the World Series. Although Gurriel and the Astros couldn’t get it done in Game 1, there is still a lot more baseball to be played in the coming days.
Game 2 of the World Series takes place on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
Here is what you need to know:
1. Gurriel Made an Inappropriate Gesture Toward Pitcher Yu Darvish in Game 4 of the World Series
In Game 4 of the World Series, Gurriel went into the dugout, pulled on the corners of his eyes, and made a derogatory comment about Dodgers pitcher, Yu Darvish. After the incident, Major League Baseball took action, suspending Gurriel for the first five games of the 2018 season.
When the Astros and Dodgers returned to Los Angeles, Gurriel was greeted by loud boos from the crowd during his first at-bat. Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill even stepped off the mound to allow the booing to continue unabated before throwing his first pitch.
“That was as loud and as long a boo as I’ve heard in my time in sports. I don’t think the Dodger fans will let him get past it until, maybe never. I think people have long memories in situations like this,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch told the media on Wednesday.
In Wednesday’s Game 7, Gurriel and Darvish met again, for the first time since the incident. Gurriel stepped out of the batter’s box and removed his helmet, nodding in Darvish’s direction in a seeming apology.
This is Gurriel’s second season playing in the majors and it is the first time that he has played in the World Series. Although he may not have the experience that some of his teammates have, his manager has a lot of faith in him.
“His ability to handle the stress and anxiety that comes with the situations is not surprising. He’s been on the international stage. He’s been the central sports figure of a country where baseball is beloved, so I think his personality that has come out this year, his exuberance (and) his overall consistent play has been something we’ve expected. It’s nice to see it play out,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch told the media.
2. Gurriel Signed a 5-Year Deal with the Houston Astros in 2016
Gurriel took after his father, Lourdes Gurriel, and fell in love with baseball. Gurriel played for Sancti Spiritus in the Cuban league and was also on Cuba’s national team. He participated in the 2004 Olympics, and he represented Cuba in the three World Baseball Classic tournaments. He was also part of Cuban championship teams at the Pan American Games, Central American Games, World Baseball Championships, International Cup, and the Caribbean Series.
When he moved to America, Gurriel spent some time in the minors before settling down in Texas.
In 2016, Gurriel inked a deal with the Astros that will earn him $47.5 million over five years, according to ESPN. Hailing from Cuba, Gurriel is a newcomer in every sense of the word. Before he started playing for the major leagues, Gurriel was “one of the biggest stars of 21st century international baseball,” according to Sports Illustrated.
“I always had the hope to play in the United States. But it always seemed like something very far away … it has been my dream my whole life to be here and to play next to big league players,” he told the media through a translator after signing his contract.
3. Gurriel Is From Cuba & Is Still Learning English
Gurriel made the decision to leave his family in Cuba and come to America to play ball. Although the decision wasn’t easy for him, it’s something that he knew he had to do. He and his brother Lourdes Jr. were playing in the Caribbean Series in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in February 2016 when they “defected in the middle of the night,” according to MLB.com.
In an interview with the New York Times, Gurriel talked about his decision, saying that he knew it was “now or never.”
In 2016, he played 15 games in the minor leagues, for four different affiliates before signing with the Astros. He played 36 games in his first season, batting .262, with three home runs and 15 R.B.I. Gurriel’s younger brother signed a 7-year, $22 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.
In addition to playing baseball in America, Gurriel had to learn a new language. He has used a translator to speak to the media since making his move to the majors.
“He and his wife are learning English with the help of an Astros instructor,” the New York Times reported last year. It hasn’t been easy for Gurriel, who has spoken Spanish his whole life, but he is getting the hang of the English language as time goes on.
“He’s definitely making progress. He’s probably going to be shy around the media for a while, because he’s been a country hero for a long time and he doesn’t want to embarrass himself and make mistakes. But I told him around me he can certainly make as many mistakes as he wants,” General Manager Jeff Luhnow told the New York Times.
4. Gurriel Is Married & Has a Son
Gurriel hasn’t shared much about his personal life during interviews or on social media, but he is married and he and his wife have a son together. Although he doesn’t share that many photos of his family, he has shared a few photos of his son, especially in recent months.
It is believed that Gurriel’s wife moved to America with him, but it’s unclear if she lives in Texas on a full-time basis.
5. Gurriel’s Hair Is the Talk of the Town
Gurriel can be seen between innings hanging out on the Houston Astros bench, letting his hair roam free. His hair has become such a “thing” that the Astros held a Gurriel fan night of sorts back in May, handing out wigs to match the first baseman’s wild locks.
Gurriel’s teammate Jose Altuve even got in on the action. Check out a photo below.
Gurriel hasn’t always had wild and crazy hair, but his “look” has become part of who he is and it’s a big reason that fans love him.
“He’s like a cockatiel gone rogue, a mutated carrot or pineapple, a rabbit’s tail being electrocuted. He’s a feather duster being pulled toward the heavens, a bird’s nest thrown into an airplane engine, a bag of grass clippings dipped in mustard and powdered sugar, one of the dudes from Kid ‘n Play having just woken up. Gurriel’s hair is a towering nonsense of angles and points, a stained glass window that exploded,” writes Sports Illustrated.
There have been plenty of memes and jokes made about Gurriel’s hair, but they don’t seem to bother him at all. In fact, the more people talk about his hair, the more he seems to show it off.