Tulo's hair earns Clemente Award nomination

Tulo's hair earns Clemente Award nomination

DENVER -- Rockies All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is a throwback.

Just look at that hair. He has spent this season in the old-fashioned mullet -- long and curly in the back, close-cropped on the side, thankfully covered by a cap on top. That style has been gone for at least a decade, and it retired from baseball with flame-throwing pitcher Randy Johnson.

But at least Tulowitzki is in on the fashion joke.

"In the Rockies Magazine, they did a little article on me and it had pictures of when I was a kid," Tulowitzki said. "It's funny because I had this same haircut, even though I spiked up the top. I thought it was a cool hairdo to bring into the season, and if could raise money it's even better."

What Tulowitzki calls "bad hair for a good cause" is his way of encouraging donations to the Wins for Kids Program, run jointly by the Rockies and FSN Rocky Mountain. Tulowitzki has raised about $25,000 for The Children's Hospital and The Special Olympics. For his participation in the program, Tulowitzki is the Rockies' nominee for baseball's Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevy.

All 30 nominees have immersed themselves in the type of humanitarian and community efforts that distinguished the life of Clemente, a life that ended at age 38 on New Year's Eve, 1972. Clemente, a Pittsburgh Pirates star and eventual Hall of Famer who months earlier that year achieved his 3,000th and final hit, died in the crash of a plane aboard which he was personally delivering aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims.

Fans will once again have the opportunity to participate in the selection of a national winner. They can cast votes for any of the 30 club nominees through Oct. 8.

The fan ballot winner will be tallied as one vote among those cast by a special selection panel of baseball dignitaries and media members. The panel includes MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and Vera Clemente, widow of the Hall of Fame right fielder.

Voting fans also will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip for four to the 2010 World Series to see the national winner presented with the Roberto Clemente Award.

Tulowitzki said he has been connected with The Children's Hospital since just after his rookie year. Also, finding treatments and cures for cancer is a cause close to Tulowitzki.

When he signed his six-year, $31 million contract in January 2000, he said he wanted to become active in the fight against cancer, a disease that took his grandmother's life. Just before Spring Training, his cousin, mentor and workout partner, Lexy Winters, died of skin cancer.

Folks have fun discussing the hair and Tulowitzki laughs with them, but he's growing it for serious reasons.

"As a kid, how I viewed Major League Baseball players was they weren't normal -- they didn't have a life that everybody else had," Tulowitzki said. "Now that I'm seeing my teammates go through things, seeing myself go through things with family members, we're normal people just like everybody else.

"With me being in the position that I am, financially and with the standpoint that a lot of people look up to me, I have a privilege that not too many people have. I can make something happen in this city, not only with kids but with anybody. I take that to heart. This is just a small sample size of what I plan on doing for my entire career."

With all conversation-starting questions from Rockies fans, and catcalls on the road from those wondering what's with the hair, Tulowitzki's hair choice has been a success in raising awareness. He also said he wants to earn the Rockies' Roberto Clemente Award nomination every year he's with the team, and reach far beyond the playing surface at Coors Field.

Tulowitzki said he'd like to try something other than a mullet next year, but someone willing to reach back for a style whose time thankfully came and left is making no guarantees.

"Some people think at the end of the year that I'm going to cut it off," Tulowitzki said. "But if this thing becomes big and people want me to keep it -- for some reason -- I'm open to anything.

"If someone wants me to shave my whole head, I'm open."

Bad hair, or even no hair, is fine with Tulowitzki if it helps others.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.