By DÁNICA COTO, Associated Press
SAN JUAN (AP) — The blondes are back.
Puerto Rico on Friday broke the Guinness World record for the most hair dyed, with 192 men going blond to support the U.S. territory’s team vying to win the World Baseball Classic after finishing twice as runner-up.
The team’s players first dyed their hair blond ahead of the 2017 World Baseball Classic as a joke, unexpectedly unleashing a dyeing craze in Puerto Rico that left pharmacies and beauty supply stores bereft of hair dye.
The tournament is usually held every four years, but the pandemic delayed it by two years, so after six years of no dye jobs and no “Team Rubio!” cheers, many Puerto Ricans were eager to see if the trend would continue.
The players obliged and repeated the tradition this year, and people in the island of overwhelmingly dark hair once again responded via platinum blond, dirty blond, and even burnt orange locks and beards to show their support.
“The more blond hair, the more united we’ll be as a people,” photographer Miguel Rodríguez Camilo said while waiting for his dark hair to change color.
He was one of more than 200 men who showed up for the mass bleaching event Friday. Some were disqualified for various reasons, including, for example, not taking the obligatory “before” picture.
Guinness World record adjudicator Natalia Ramírez noted that a handful were disqualified because they already had white or graying hair.
“If you can’t really see a change, it doesn’t count,” she said.
Participants sat in an outdoor area for up to 45 minutes wearing plastic shower caps as they laughed at each other, took selfies, and looked at themselves in their smartphones as colorists came by and peeked under the shower caps.
“I wasn’t going to do it, but my colleagues pressured me into it,” said William Davidowski, a 51-year-old with naturally dark brown hair who works at the insurance company that helped organize the event.
The World Baseball Classic just started, but Davidowski wasn’t sure how long he would stay blond.
“It depends on how it looks,” he said with a laugh.
He walked out nearly an hour later with a baseball cap on.
Organizers of the event had eight hours to beat the previous record, set in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in March 2013 when 160 people dyed their hair. More than five hours after Friday’s event began, participant No. 161, the man responsible for breaking the record, walked in to the applause and yells of those gathered.
“Let’s always support our guys,” Tomás Nieves, a 22-year-old air conditioning technician, said in a low whisper, explaining that he was nervous about all the attention.
Team Rubio, as Puerto Rico’s team is known, almost adopted another hair color this year.
There was talk about players dyeing their hair blue, “but some boys got a little shy,” New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor said at a recent news conference.
Then Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Báez posted a picture on Instagram with newly dyed blond hair and, “that was that,” Lindor said.
This time, the team was prepared. It hired five barbers and colorists, compared with the lone barber and colorist from 2017. A local university that helped organize Friday’s event bought 79 pounds of bleach.
“The people of Puerto Rico embraced it. It did them and us well as a team. So why not continue with this tradition?” Yadier Molina, former St. Louis Cardinals catcher and Team Puerto Rico’s manager, said earlier this week.
The team and its fans hope all that blond power will translate into a win.
Puerto Rico played its first game Saturday against Nicaragua, winning 9-1, and then lost to Venezuela 6-9 on Sunday.
The team plays Israel on Monday at 7 p.m. Eastern at LoanDepot Park in Miami, Florida before facing the Dominican Republic on Wednesday.