06/12/2007 9:41 AM ET
The kindest cut for Nick Swisher
By George Castle / Special to MLBPLAYERS.com
It's the best haircut Nick Swisher ever received.
Nick Swisher gets his hair cut by his father, Steve, on May 18. (Ben Margot/AP)
Just in time for the warm summer weather, Swisher had his extra-long locks sheared before the May 18 game against the Giants at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland. His father, former big-league catcher Steve Swisher, made the first snip.
It was all for a good cause. The younger Swisher's shorn locks will go toward making up a wig to be worn by a woman afflicted with cancer. The Athletics' outfielder is an ambassador for the Entertainment Industry Foundation Women's Cancer Fund. And his hair and all the national attention surrounding his shearing benefited Pantene Beautiful Lengths non-profit fund, which provides the wigs for women who lose their hair during cancer treatments.
In the days afterward, Swisher appeared on Jim Rome's national ESPN TV show and a host of sports-talk radio programs. He was glad his father took the first cut, as both were honoring Steve's mother and Nick's grandmother, Betty, who died after suffering from cancer in August 2005.
"I got a little nervous, man," Nick Swisher said of his father's handiwork. "It wasn't like it was barber-shop scissors. It was just regular scissors. We had fun. It was great. It was an emotional time for both of us, to be able to dedicate it to my grandmother.
"I don't think there was anyone who wanted to cut my hair more than he did, I can tell you that."
Nick Swisher had never sported long hair, but had grown his locks out 11 inches over a 10-month period to set up the event.
"It wasn't publicity for me, it was publicity for the cause," Swisher said. "I think we did a great job making people a little more aware of it, along with Pantene Beautiful Lengths and EIF (the Women's Cancer Fund). Try to find cures for cancer at an early stage. You can get rid of it before it spreads.
"I dealt with it and lost a loved one. Plenty of other people out there are going through the same thing. If we can all fight together, [we can] take care of this disease."
Pantene makes real-hair wigs. Swisher figures the eight to nine inches trimmed off will comprise one full wig.
"I just hope if affects someone and gives them a little more confidence, and helps them to be able to fight through something like this," Swisher said. "This could help any woman who is going through chemo. Looks are important."
Swisher does not limit his community involvement to the cancer fund. While Barry Zito was his Athletics teammate, he joined in the left-hander's Strikeouts for Troops program. During the offseason, Swisher and Athletics pitcher Joe Blanton visited U.S. Naval bases in Italy, Spain and Greece.
"We went to six different bases," Swisher said. "I got to thank the troops in person. I don't think it gets much better than that."
The next step is his own foundation, Swisher's Wishes.
"It will be for children," he said. "It's just in the beginning stages. We've just started a Web site, www.NickSwisher.net. I do a lot of cancer work. It's either going for underprivileged kids or kids going through cancer. I think all kids in general I'll focus on, and as time goes on, I'll lock in on one thing."
Now that's (hair) stylin'.
The Women's Cancer Research Fund is an initiative of the Entertainment Industry Foundation that supports innovative research, education, and outreach directed at the development of more effective approaches to the early diagnosis, treatment and prevention of all women's cancer. To learn how to make a donation to the Women's Cancer Research Fund, visit www.eifoundation.org or to learn about donating healthy hair, visit www.beautifullengths.com.
-- Red Line Editorial