CreditMichael Stravato for The New York Times
After the Houston Astros first baseman Yulieski Gurriel belted a three-run homer against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, tying up Game 5 of the World Series, he tossed off his helmet. His eye-catching cut, called “La Piña” — the pineapple — for its tall, spiky sprout, received enthusiastic rubs and fluffs from his teammates as he crossed home plate and Houston’s Minute Maid Park reverberated with the excitement of fans.
The pineapple is hardly the only hairstyle getting prime-time treatment this World Series.
The Astros’ star center fielder, George Springer, has a bouffant-like central ridge that drops down into a short tail, shaved tight along the sides. Carlos Correa, the cleanup hitter and the bouncing superstar of Game 5, zips up a close, military-style cut with fine lines that curve over his ears and a 1940s pencil mustache. And over on the opposing team, Yasiel Puig offers up a low mohawk sometimes dyed Dodgers blue that is buttressed with script shaved into the faded sides.
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All this hair is starting conversations, and copycats, in the barbershops around Houston — especially those owned by Dominican, Cuban and Puerto Rican people.
Danny Quiles, known as the Astros’ unofficial barber, is an unassuming, quick-to-smile Puerto Rican man who seems just as surprised by his success as some Astros fans are by the success of their team. When Mr. Quiles isn’t making home calls to the mansions of million-dollar players, he’s at Cadillax Barber Shop, just outside of Houston in Katy, Tex. On Friday, he’d freshened up Mr. Gurriel’s pineapple — “he wanted it clean for the weekend games” — and later that night, he was taking his young son and pregnant wife to the game.
“La Piña, I think, was fundamentally Yuli’s idea,” he said. “But we didn’t think it was going to cause this sensation.”
A couple of years ago, one of Mr. Quiles’s friends asked if he could cut a client’s hair. The client happened to be Alex Cintrón, a former major league player. “He said he liked the cut, and asked if I would be willing to cut some of the other players’ hair.”
Soon, Mr. Quiles was being called to the field in downtown Houston to tend to Astros players between games. He says he was star-struck at first. “I couldn’t believe it because the players had my phone number and I’d look down and, wow, Marwin González is calling me.” His ability to translate a client’s idea into blended fades flawless enough to tolerate a zooming high-definition camera has put Mr. Quiles in high demand.
The signature style Mr. Quiles leaves on the heads of Houston players has created a surge of requests around the city’s barbershops for similar looks. Ray Davis, the owner of a barbershop down the street from Cadillax, said, “Just in the past two weeks, there’s been a lot of interest in getting Astros cuts.”
And if they’re not looking to imitate the style of the players, Mr. Davis said, then customers come in wanting variations of the Astros logo in their hair.
CreditMichael Stravato for The New York Times CreditMichael Stravato for The New York Times CreditMichael Stravato for The New York Times
On the other side of the city, the Caribbean Barber Shop sits in a strip mall alongside a money-sending service and a Puerto Rican juice store specializing in spicy mango treats. Around 5 o’clock on Sunday, with the first pitch of Game 5 just two hours away, a table was brought into the barbershop, onto which dominoes were dumped and mixed.
Soon Dos Equis were popped and nestled into the corner holders. The last clients of the day finished off their looks. Around town, an atmosphere of sizzling excitement has permeated the city’s Caribbean salons, as customers and barbers alike gather to celebrate, and argue about, their baseball team and its stars.
CreditMichael Stravato for The New York Times CreditMichael Stravato for The New York Times
In recent years, hairstyles came from San Juan, Santo Domingo and Havana. The attention-grabbing haircuts that many men in those cities wear can be head-turning. Mr. Gurriel and Mr. Puig are Cuban. Mr. Correa is Puerto Rican. Mr. Springer is from Connecticut, and his family is Puerto Rican and Panamanian. “I think you can tell a Caribbean person just by their haircut,” Mr. Quiles said.
The Caribbean players have a “stylized way of playing baseball, and that style translates to their pride in their look,” said Rob Ruck, a professor of sport history at the University of Pittsburgh. “What’s really cool is that the styles being pioneered in the Caribbean are now evident in major league baseball.”
Roberto Alvarez is a Cuban barber with a pop-up “mini-salon” in Havana that draws long lines of men looking for fades. Some of the hottest cuts in Havana today? El yonki (a tall, wide crest), el tiburón (a low-cut mohawk) and el dominicano (short, with longer hair in front). Mr. Alvarez doesn’t like Puig’s tiburón (shark). He thinks it is “super -simple” and “without much quality, believe me,” he wrote over chat on Facebook. But the pineapple, on the other hand, as created by Mr. Gurriel and Mr. Quiles, is “very good.”
So what makes a good cut? Nandy Mercado, a passionate young Puerto Rican barber at the shop where Mr. Quiles works, broke it down while he finished off a Springer-inspired pompadour cut. “You don’t want to see heavy darkness, or one side that’s blended higher than another,” he said.
He said barbers are wildly competitive, and he made sure to mention that he doesn’t sketch — meaning he doesn’t outline a design before he cuts it, nor does he shade, using paint to fix mistakes or darken areas. Instead, with great precision, he uses a blade to freestyle his designs, a technique that has taken him almost a decade to perfect.
CreditMichael Stravato for The New York Times
At Cadillax Barber Shop, the flag on the wall is Puerto Rican, and the customers are Texan, but the owner is a Dodgers fan. He keeps the salon colors blue and white. Mr. Mercado, an Astros fan, said he doesn’t mind, and that “it’s nice to have a little witty banter” in the salon. He also thinks it’s no coincidence the Astros are in the World Series. “I think the secret sauce is the haircut,” he said, completely serious.
“When you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good, you play good,” Mr. Mercado said. “Have you seen how the Astros have been playing? Yeah, well, look at how fresh their cuts are.”