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Baseball

Irish shave heads for cause

| Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How long does it take to give haircuts to an entire baseball team? If no one is too picky about styling, just under 60 minutes.

In a twist on the traditional “Meet the Team” dinner, every member of the Notre Dame baseball team — including the coaches and support staff — had their heads shaved over the course of an hour on the Purcell Pavilion parquet Tuesday night as part of a fundraiser for The Bald and the Beautiful, Notre Dame’s student run campaign to raise funds for cancer research.

Sophomore pitcher Michael Hearne receives a haircut as part of a fundraiser for cancer research. The entire Irish program took part.Alison D'Ambrosia

Sophomore pitcher Michael Hearne receives a haircut as part of a fundraiser for cancer research. The entire Irish program took part.

“It’s all for a good cause,” freshman second baseman Cavan Biggio said. “For us it’s just hair, but for kids who actually have cancer it’s more of a life-battle, and this is just a small thing for us. We get to play baseball everyday and we kind of take it for granted sometimes.”

The event was inspired in part by Daniel Alexander, a local child suffering from a brain tumor, who has been “adopted” by the team.

“It was right at the end of the fall; he came in with his family and introduced himself, and that’s when we were made aware of his story,” junior outfielder Conor Biggio said. “It’s an incredible story and really touched all of our hearts.”

According to the elder Biggio, many members of the team did not believe Irish coach Mik Aoki when he told them they would all be getting their heads shaved.

“We were told kind of jokingly at first. It was after a practice, and Aoki was like ‘Yeah, we’re going to be shaving our heads,’” Biggio said. “And everyone was like, ‘Oh, yeah, okay.’ And then all the sudden we realized he was serious, and now here we are getting our heads shaved.”

Before the head-shaving festivities, however, the team welcomed back former Irish pitcher Aaron Heilman, who was drafted by the New York Mets in the first round of the 2001 draft and went on to pitch for the Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks after his time in New York. Heilman gave a short, emotional speech that covered his time at Notre Dame and his role in Mets teammate Tom Glavine’s 300th win.

“He’s obviously a great baseball player; obviously knows the game very well, been around for a long time. He had a lot of good things to say, a lot of good things about the University, which is always nice to hear.”

After Heilman, a four-time All-American while at Notre Dame, finished his talk, the team walked to the basketball court for the main event.

Some players were more reluctant to part with their hair than others.

“It’s a great cause. I don’t think anybody really resented it,” Conor Biggio said. “They all knew it was a good cause, but obviously my brother [Cavan] and [sophomore left fielder] Zak Kutsulis both love their hair, but they’ll be fine, they’ll get over it. It’ll grow back.”

Many players agreed Kutsulis, whose hair reached his shoulders before the event, was the most reluctant to take part. Cavan Biggio acknowledged his mullet had taken over a year to grow, but he was prepared to cut it.

“There used to be freshman haircuts and only the freshman would get these, so I kind of assumed it coming in,” Biggio said. “This is a little different thing, where everyone on the team does it.”

The team showed they were not above a little peer-pressure when it comes to a good cause, cajoling freshman outfielder Clayton Bouchard into the barber’s chair.

“He was the one planning on not doing it, and at the last second we forced him to do it, so I think he wasn’t prepared for it,” Cavan Biggio said. “I think he’s going to be a little shocked about it later on.”

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu

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