How Justin Turner grew into a Dodgers folk hero, just like his beard
Via New York Post
As The Beard grows, so goes the Dodgers.
Justin Turner let his fiery orange beard go. Especially this year, he just decided to let his beard go crazy and his career has taken off as well.
The ex-Met gave the Dodgers fans a modern-day Kirk Gibson moment in the NLCS with a walk-off home run against the Cubs, then won the Battle of the Beards against Dallas Keuchel in Game 1 of the World Series with the game-winning home run.
With the World Series tied 1-1 after the Astros’ amazing four-home run comeback in the 11-inning, 7-6 Game 2 victory in Los Angeles, the pressure is on Turner and The Beard to come through as the Dodgers need three more wins to capture their first World Series in 29 years.
Dodgers showman Yasiel Puig confided to The Post, with that mischievous Puig smile, “I want to cut that beard. But I like it. Sometimes I touch it for good luck.’’
Turner’s lumberjack beard is much more than a good luck charm, it’s a fashion statement, it’s hip, it’s Hollywood. The fans love the beard as much as they love Turner. You see all kinds of Turner beards being worn by fans as you walk around Dodger Stadium.
Turner feeds the beast.
“It’s serious business,’’ Turner said of the October version of The Beard.
If the Dodgers win the World Series, he has promised to trim it but not cut it off. It’s become a thing. Turner is getting married soon. He wants to be fresh for that occasion.
But the Beard is a statement. Beards and baseball go hand in hand these days.
Turner was asked about his beard and Keuchel’s beard, and he cut to the chase: “The beards aren’t throwing any pitches or taking any swings. So, it’s about the man underneath them.
“Dallas’ beard is stellar, but obviously his beard isn’t throwing any sliders or changeups. It’s him out there.
“And my beard is not taking any swings for me.’’
Game 3 is Friday night (FOX, 8:20 p.m.) at Minute Maid Park with the Dodgers throwing Yu Darvish against Houston’s Lance McCullers Jr.
The All-Star hit .322 this season. In 28 career postseason games, Turner is a .344 hitter with six home runs and 26 RBIs.
The beard is an exclamation point to the third baseman’s fun-loving personality. On the big board at Dodger Stadium, Animal from “The Muppets” chants “Jus-tin! Jus-tin!’’
Cubs manager Joe Maddon wears a light beard, and appreciates Turner’s beard and game.
“It’s a great form of self-expression,’’ Maddon said during the NLCS. “I know he has a beard, but I don’t focus on it. Abraham Lincoln wore a beard too, so there are a lot of influential people throughout history who have worn beards and anybody who is bothered by that, is defining themselves.’’
What is the most repeated request from fans?
“Usually, it’s let me get a picture,’’ Turner said. “Because of the beard.’’
Turner is a tireless worker on the field and in the community, the best community-based athlete Dodgers president Stan Kasten said he has ever been around.
How did Turner, 32, become the player he has become after the Mets dumped him? It’s not just about adding a leg kick with Marlon Byrd’s help.
“It’s more about not being satisfied,’’ Turner said. “Trying to continue to grow.’’
Grow the game. Grow the beard.
They go hand in hand this season, because Turner has had a beard for years, but now it’s The Beard.
Turner began to grow a light beard back with the Mets, but it has blossomed over the last year.
“I just was texting with David Wright a few days ago,’’ Turner said. “David played a huge role in my career for maturing and growing up and watching how he handled the leadership role in New York. He took me under his wing and helped me out when I didn’t know how to handle certain situations. I will be forever in debt to him for that.’’
The Beard does not forget.
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