What were they thinking?

Most of us — sitting in eighth grade history class, looking at pictures of the early presidents, and waiting for the bell to ring — have asked that question. For a time there, our country’s presidents grew bushy, ratty beards halfway down their chests, and people voted for them. It was the look.

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And so it is again… at least on baseball diamonds around the Major League. Big beards are back.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 07: Pitcher Brian Wilson reacts after pitching in the eighth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on May 7, 2014 in Washington, DC.

Brian Wilson (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

1. Brian Wilson, Los Angeles Dodgers

Look at that beard. You could hatch a family of birds in it. Beavers collect the trimmings to build dams. Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Brian Wilson has been growing his impressive nest underbrush beard for a few years now; that much facial hair doesn’t just sprout up overnight. The power pitcher, who returned from Tommy John surgery in 2013, is obviously very committed to it too, because a face forest that dense can be really uncomfortable in the long, hot Los Angeles summer.

BOSTON, MA - JULY 7: Mike Napoli #12 of the Boston Red Sox makes the catch to end the top of the fifth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park on July 7, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Mike Napoli (Photo Credit: Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

2. Mike Napoli, Boston Red Sox

Mike Napoli plays catcher and first base for the Boston Red Sox, which makes sense since a beard that lush and dense could surely block an errant pitch or infield throw. General upkeep also becomes a major task. Napoli seemed to let things go a little during last season’s playoff run, perhaps because of superstition or a simple lack of time. The crumb catcher has since been tamed. Clearly he managed to find some grooming tools (hedge clippers?) in the offseason.

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WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 05: Jayson Werth #28 of the Washington Nationals walks in the dugout before the start of their game against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park on July 5, 2014 in Washington, DC.

Jayson Werth (Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

3. Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals

Jayson Werth was born in Springfield, Illinois, the longtime home of Abraham Lincoln. So clearly nineteenth century presidential facial hair is in his blood. In fact, Article IV of the Constitution requires an individual with such a heritage grow an impressive beard. (Okay, maybe I made up that last part.) The Nationals’ outfielder, being a good citizen, has more than stepped up to the plate, with a beard so thick his grandmother offered to knit an afghan out of it once he shaves it off. (Okay, I probably made up the part about his grandmother too.)

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JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 24:  Pitcher Jason Motte #30 of the St. Louis Cardinals poses for a portrait during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium on February 24, 2014 in Jupiter, Florida.

Jason Motte (Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

4. Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals

It’s one thing to grow a big, bushy beard. It’s quite another to grow a beard so bushy that it seems to fold back in on itself, as if the beard itself is growing its own beard. Well, meet Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals’ relief pitcher. And while we’re doing introductions, meet his beard too.

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DETROIT, MI - JUNE 30: Sean Doolittle #61 of the Oakland Athletics looks in at home plate during the ninth inning of the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on June 30, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers won the game on a walk off grand slam home run by Rajai Davis #20. The Tigers defeated the Athletics 5-4.

Sean Doolittle (Photo Credit: Leon Halip/Getty Images)

5. Sean Doolittle, Oakland Athletics

Give that man a mule, a gold pan and a claim to a piece of riverbed. Oakland Athletics’ pitcher Sean Doolittle, with all that blonde bushiness, looks more ready for the gold rush than the White House, never mind the pitcher’s mound. Then again, this is America, where the rags-to-riches tale is written into our national narrative, and so many of our presidents grew up dirt poor. So there we have it, the circle is complete. And let’s be frank, old-timey presidents and wild west explorers kind of look the same anyway.

BOSTON, MA - MAY 4: Derek Norris #36 of the Oakland Athletics prepares for batting practice before a game with Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on May 4, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Derek Norris (Photo Credit: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

6. Derek Norris, Oakland Athletics

Sean Doolittle’s batterymate also makes the crazy beard list, because pitchers can’t have all the fun. Oakland Athletics’ catcher Derek Norris has barely played enough games to deserve a beard of this magnitude. And like his teammate, he’s more frontiersman than politician. But it’s a fuzzy line, so our judges will allow his beard to be included on this list. And what a beard it is. It’s almost impossible to tell where it ends and his hair begins.

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Norm Elrod likes sports and other sanctioned forms of craziness.