PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- A crowd hovered on the boardwalk overlooking right field at Charlotte Sports Park waiting for the lambs -- make that, Rays -- to get sheared.
Wade Davis and Jose Molina were the first to sit in a barber's chair with their backs to the field while a host of barbers awaited the rest of the Rays.
By the time the pregame activity had concluded, 71 had been shorn. In the mix were players, coaches, manager Joe Maddon and team executives -- including team president Matt Silverman, executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and even principal owner Stu Sternberg. After all, getting clipped was for a good cause.
The charity event was staged to pay tribute to children battling cancer. All proceeds will benefit the Pediatric Cancer Foundation and the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at All Children's Hospital.
Rays players wore yellow "Fortune Favors the Bald" T-shirts at their morning workout prior to the event. To show support for a player or participant, the public is encouraged to text "Cut" to 50555 to make a $10 donation, or visit pcfcutforacure.org.
Maddon caught much of the early attention while making his way toward his turn in the chair. Throughout the offseason and Spring Training, the Rays manager has fashioned a dirty blonde dye job that he has continued to let grow in advance of the event. Once the barber got busy on Maddon's head, using a No. 1 setting on his clippers, Maddon emerged white-headed.
"Feels clean, feels good, feels right," Maddon chirped.
He then looked around at the crowd.
"This has exceeded expectations," Maddon said. "Getting all the players involved is what makes this work. It makes it very gratifying, and I think the fans and the people throughout the Tampa Bay community will appreciate this, too."
When asked what he thought his wife was going to say about his new haircut, Maddon smiled: "Jaye's going to dig it big time."
At one point, Sternberg sat next to ace James Shields while both went low.
"The Mohawk a few years ago was not befitting of the owner," said Sternberg, recalling the hair fashion that consumed the Rays and their fans during the 2008 pennant stretch. "But this I think is for a great cause. Not just for building team unity, but for a great cause. Raise some donations, create some awareness, so how could I not [take part]? When in Rome, right?
"This is great for the team, anything to build a little unity for everybody, good, simple little thing to do."
When Sternberg stepped from the chair he had a new look.
"It's all a question of how it looks," Sternberg said. "It feels good, nice and cool."
And what did the team owner thing of his manager's new look?
"After that look he had going on, great," Sternberg said. "That was a rough look he had happening."
In addition to getting his hair cut, Sternberg also donated $25,000 to the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer and Research Institute, where he serves on the board of advisors.
Shields stood from the chair and noted to nobody in particular, "feel nice and refreshed, I'll tell you that."
"It's going to be nice not to have to do my hair when I get out of the shower," Shields said "But this is what it's all about. This is what the Rays are about. It's nice to come out here and do this. ... Can I drop my age from 30 to about 23 now?"
Third-base coach Tom Foley got his hair cut and asked, "Anybody got any gel?" He then donned a visor with fake gray hair on top.
Sternberg noted that the new aerodynamics of the group "might help team speed."
Don Zimmer, who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers back when clubhouse chemistry and gags punctuated the baseball landscape, said "we never did anything like this."
"We did a lot of goofy things, but nobody knew about it," Zimmer said. "I just got a normal haircut today, that's what I got. That's what I get all the time."
Meanwhile, Jeff Niemann did not remember ever having a buzz haircut. He rubbed his hand across his head, then quipped: "I might not be [6-foot-9] anymore."
All kidding aside, Shields said the event meant a lot to him and the other players.
"That's one of the things we do pretty well as players: We help the community out," Shields said. "This is what it's all about. the fight for cancer. We're very fortunate with what we do and what we do in our lives. So this is the least we can do is help out."
Maddon said he viewed the event from many different angles.
"Primarily to support pediatric cancer," Maddon said. "Lecavalier got us involved with this. I'm grateful he pointed us in this direction. And I think again we're going to gain more empathy for a lot of the moments. Whether it's the kids themselves, their parents, what they're going through. All of this stuff should raise our awareness as a group also, which I think is important.
"If we're able to raise some money, that's fantastic, and also if we're able to raise the awareness among the general population would be great.
"Eventually it could spill back to us with the galvanizing effect. Doing something like this as a group, as a team, I think is always good. But I don't want it to get lost in the primary reason we're doing this, which is for pediatric cancer research."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.