10/11/2012 | WRITTEN BY NATHAN FENNO
A late-night phone call summoned the playoff barber.
So, Hugo Tandron — “Juice” or “Hugo Boss” to friends — stood in a tunnel deep under Busch Stadium in St. Louis earlier this week. He wore all black: the ever-present short-sleeve barber’s jacket, shorts and Jordan high-tops. Some of his 100-plus tattoos peeked out. Full sleeves on both arms, a turtleneck of ink around his neck. There hadn’t been time to pack properly for the October chill. The urgent request from Edwin Jackson last Friday night canceled Tandron’s planned vacation to Florida’s west coast and put him on a last-minute flight from Miami to St. Louis.
The Washington Nationals, in the city’s first Major League Baseball postseason series in 79 years, needed haircuts.
Among baseball’s myriad quirks is the clubhouse barber culture. Superstition and routine and convenience coalesce around whatever extra chair Tandron scrounges up in place of the more permanent models in his Miami Lakes, Fla., shop. A portable barber shop is packed in his checked suitcase: big shears, small shears and thinning shears, electric Wahl clippers, three boxes of straight-edge razors.
“When you see somebody with a tight fade, you knew it was Hugo. You can just tell his work,” said F.P. Santangelo, the Nationals’ color analyst on MASN who started getting haircuts from Tandron in 1997 when Santangelo played for the Montreal Expos. “The last couple of years with the faux hawks or mohawks? That was him. Now you’re watching everybody in the postseason with those perfectly-shaped beards. That’s him.”
The 42-year-old’s work cuts through the Nationals roster. Take Gio Gonzalez. Noted by teammates as the most grooming-conscious (and possibly superstitious) man in the Nationals clubhouse, Gonzalez gets haircuts every two days to sharpen his hair’s razor edges. Reliever Ryan Mattheus kids Gonzalez that he gets haircuts twice a day: before he takes the mound and after he’s done.