Vermonters love their beards -- and wear them in all shapes and sizes. From tight and bushy, to long and wispy -- even our goats get in on the fun. It's a style that dates back almost as far as the Green Mountain State itself.
"If you look at Vermont's founders -- none of them had beards," said former State Archivist Greg Sanford. Sanford's beard hasn't seen a razor since 1972. He says the first woman elected to the state legislature didn't have a beard, but it was her last name. But Sanford adds, prominent Vermonters didn't begin wearing them until the Civil War era; but then beards grew on the state almost immediately. "From the late 19th century it's a spectacular collection of mustaches and beards and everything else," he said.
Sanford says before he went gray, the beard did scare some -- especially children. A fear of beards is known as pogonophobia. But can beards truly intimidate a professional athlete, as the Red Sox' 'Fear the Beard' slogan implies? We asked an expert -- University of Vermont Assistant Psychology Professor Matthew Price.
"The fear and impairment that can be associated with it is just the same as any other phobia that someone might have," Price said. He says fear of facial hair is rare and usually stems from a traumatic event during one's childhood. He says if one of the players had the syndrome, this World Series would be tough for them, but also therapeutic. Then again - Cardinals pitching may be developing a David-Ortiz-aphobia. "Having a beard doesn't necessarily guarantee victory," Price said.
Price notes the beards didn't save the Oakland A's earlier in the playoffs. One can fear the beard, but are they lucky? Sanford says it worked for him. "I'd say it's luck, but since I haven't shaved since 1972 I don't know what my luck would be like without it," he said.
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