On draft night of 2010, the day the Washington Nationals had selected teenage phenom Bryce Harper, general manager Mike Rizzo was asked a question he had likely never heard before regarding a baseball player. In the post-draft press conference, Rizzo fielded a question about Harper's trademark eye black, a unique smear of black down his cheeks that resembled war paint. Rizzo was quick to say 'no,' as if he was expecting the question to arise at some point.
Harper has since ditched the style and has not sported it in any professional games while representing the Nationals. But now a year-and-a-half after Rizzo answered the question, Harper seems to still hold on to his past. While filming a shoot for the cover of Eastbay magazine, Harper is wearing the eye black while in a Nationals uniform. It seems if they won't let him do it on the field, he will continue to rock it on his own time.
The eye black itself doesn't seem disruptive or offensive or anything like that. The Nationals probably just want the young superstar to blend in as much as possible. Many baseball teams have rules against long hair or facial hair, discouraging individuality in the interest of the team. And for a player who stands out as easily as Harper, they will be extra sensitive to this type of thing throughout his career.
But now that he has brought it back for this appearance, as well as a few other endorsement shoots, it kind of makes you wish they would let him use it. It is very unique and looks pretty good contrasted with the red jersey.