Six years ago, while watching the 2007 Home Run Derby in San Francisco with my good friend Derek, we slowly started noticing something overly captivating going on in the background of the star-studded night of festivities. Among all of the major leaguers and celebrities in attendance, there was an individual who was neither athlete or celebrity, that began stealing our full attention as the night progressed.
This man, who was short in stature, Dominican and sporting an air-brushed t-shirt that only angels could have painted, was running around with the Derby contestants as if he were one himself. We weren’t quite sure if he was a little brother, a cousin, or just a friend of any of the MLB players. But one thing was for sure, he loved the camera and he sure knew how to find it. In that 2007 Derby, he was seemingly close with David Ortiz, as he accompanied Big Papi as they brought the eventual champion, Vlad Guerrero, a new bat in the middle of his round. Surely we couldn’t be the only people thinking, WHO IN THE HELL IS THIS GUY?? He was a grown man galloping around like a 12 year old in a playground of his childhood idols… and the camera KEPT PANNING TO HIM!
Through the next handful of years, the anticipation of seeing if this character would make another appearance at the Home Run Derby, became more enjoyable to us than the Derby itself. We would absolutely lose our shit the first time ESPN’s cameras found him each year. There he was, his smile and energy becoming larger and larger with each passing all-star weekend. He even ditched the flawless airbrushed t-shirt for a FULL all-star uniform. There are certain highlights of his mysterious stardom in the past 6 years, spanning from him bringing out a water bottle to Jose Bautista, wiping the sweat from Robinson Cano’s face with a towel, and hyping up Prince Fielder as they were in the middle of their respective turns.
Well, as all-star weekend approached this year, we decided we had had enough with the mystery. We needed to know who this man was that brought us so much joy for two hours each year. As we asked around and did some digging, we found out a little bit more about our own Dominican superstar.
He isn’t a family member, a cousin, or a friend of these players. He is much larger than that. The mystery man is none other than, Jose Lopez, BARBER to the all-stars. In fact, not just any barber. According to the players whose hair he cuts, Jose is the best barber in the world. Enough so, that they have nicknamed him “Jordan”… yes after the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan. As David Ortiz explains, “When Jordan (gives me a haircut), someone will come and tell me ‘Jordan cut you’, “The guy is a genius, You got to separate him from the rest.” It has even gone as far to the point that Jose has named his two sons Michael & Jordan.
Apparently, athletes from all major sports make his shop, “Jordan MVP Barbershop”, a must-stop when they are passing through New York City, whether it be in season or not. He has also started going on the road with players, and doing cuts all over the country. What makes Jose “Jordan” Lopez so special and different from the thousands of other barbers around the U.S.? Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez explains, ‘It’s his personality, he’s unbelievable. He is an amazing guy. He is fun to be around.”
If you check his twitter out (@JordanMVPBarber) you’ll see that he has quite the circle of friends and clientele. As he has pictures with the likes of Michael Jordan himself, Jay-Z, Miguel Cabrera, Matt Kemp, Yadier Molina, Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez, Carlos Beltran, Mariano Rivera, Aroldis Chapman, Elvis Andrus, C.C. Sabathia and Frank Gore, just to name a handful.
So what started out as 6 years of an inside joke with a friend, about a mystery character on the evening of each Home Run Derby, all came together today in what really is a story of a 33 year old man who came over to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic and made his dream a reality. It doesn’t change the fact that I still think his antics are hilarious, and that I’m praying to sweet Jesus that he makes a cameo for the 7th straight year tonight. But, after reading up and learning a bit more about him, it also makes me realize that if I were in his position, I would be acting like an overjoyed 12 year old boy as well. So keep an eye out for Jordan tonight, because if he’s in attendance at Citi Field, there is no doubt that his personality, which is as big as the City he resides in, will find the camera.. and vice versa.