Charlie Blackmon & the Samson Syndrome

In case you’ve never seen Charlie Blackmon, he’s one of the premier players in major league baseball today. Besides being a great hitter, one of his claims to fame is the fact that he looks like a caveman. He has a shaggy mane on his head, but his most prominent feature is his magnificent beard. It’s thick, full, and dark. Most guys would love to be able to sport facial hair like that. Some of us can’t even get that kind of a mop on top of our heads let alone our chins. Very manly to say the least.

Baseball is one of those games that hangs on statistics. They measure everything. Now they’re measuring Charlie Blackmon’s performance against his facial growth. As it turns out, he has the Samson Syndrome.

Remember Samson?

You may remember the Old Testament story of Samson. He’s the guy whose strength was in his hair. The longer his hair got, the stronger he became. It’s kind of an odd story, but Blackmon is proving the reliability of its historicity.

Baseball announcers and statisticians have gone back into Blackmon’s baseball career and discovered an interesting correlation. The bigger Charlie’s beard gets, the more home runs he hits. One year, he shaved it off and his homer total dropped to one during the subsequent season. Ever since then, he’s allowed it to propagate, and his homer totals have climbed. Last season, he hit thirty-seven. It’s definitely the Samson Syndrome.

Here Come the Judge

The original Samson was a “Judge.” If you read the Book of Judges, you’ll quickly discover that a judge in the ancient history of Israel was not what we envision these days. These Judges were basically temporary leaders in a time when there really were no leaders. Undoubtedly, each family, clan, and tribe were rulers unto themselves. But it seemed that in times when things got exceptionally bad, a “Judge” would arise to help them out of one morass or another. Most of them probably never knew they were judges, but there was no salary attached to the position, so I doubt if they cared.

The story of Judge Samson begins in the context of a forty-year, Philistine occupation which resulted from Israel doing “evil in the eyes of the Lord.” (Judges 13:1) The Israelis were prone to this sort of behavior, so they needed a Judge once in a while to lift them out of a mess of their own making.

Samson had apparently taken the Nazarite vow. Part of the vow was to never apply a razor to one’s head. Consequently, Samson’s hair grew long, and his body grew strong. He strength was so great that he once tore a lion apart with his bare hands. He also was credited with several other feats that were equally jaw-dropping before his wife (Delilah) betrayed him and cut off his hair. Sans coiffure, he lost his strength and was defeated.

All I’ve got to say is this. Charlie Blackmon, let that beard continue to grow (and don’t get married).

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

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