Yankees star forced to shave beard for $324 million contract

New York Yankees record signing Gerrit Cole is one of the most famous bearded athletes in the sport.

At his official unveiling by the New York franchise, the iconic beard was gone and fans were losing their minds.

Cole fronted media on Wednesday (Thursday AEDT) after signing a record nine-year deal with the Yankees reportedly worth US$324million (A$471m) - leaving the Houston Astros to enter free agency.

The 29-year-old's deal will run until the 2028 MLB season, with a player opt-out following the 2024 campaign.

Boyhood Yankees fan Cole's package is reported to be the highest ever in terms of contract value for a free agent starting pitcher and annual average for any free agent.

However, the eye-watering deal came with a big catch - Cole had to ditch the facial hair that had almost come to define him.

Gerrit Cole shaved his iconic beard as part of a longstanding Yankees appearance policy. Pic: Getty

The pitcher was forced to shave off the beard as part of the Yankees' famous appearance policy, which forbids facial hair.

The sight of the clean-shaven Cole answering questions about his future with Yankees took many fans by shock, with some funny reactions quickly spreading on social media.

Cole brought a 'Yankee fan today, tomorrow, forever’ sign he was pictured with on social media when he attended a match as a child to his press conference.

‘Embodies the true American dream’

"I'm just tremendously excited and hope there's a lot of young boys out there that chase their dreams, just like I did," Cole told reporters.

Cole rejected the Yankees in 2008 in favour of studying at UCLA when he was selected as the 28th draft pick in the first round.

A clean-shaven Gerrit Cole turned heads at his official Yankees unveiling. Pic: Getty

There was no way he was going to turn down the opportunity 11 years later.

Asked why he chose the Yankees, Cole replied: "Because it was my dream, I had a second opportunity to chase it, it's the best organisation, in my opinion, in the league.

"There's a process Brian [Yankees general manager Cashman] eluded to, to try and bring the best individual people for each position and I think they've done that over the years.

"What a franchise, with tradition and its success. It kind of embodies the true American dream."

With agencies