In the depths of Marlins Park, down the hall from the team's clubhouse, sits Headz Up, the only pro barbershop in an MLB stadium.
This one-chair joint, run by Hugo "Juice" Tandron, is strictly a players-only experience. With the late Jose Fernandez's No. 16 on his vest, Juice opens his doors for nearly every home game and takes only what he is offered. "As little as $5 and as much as $10,000," he says. (And, oh, Dontrelle Willis once gave him a '74 Chevy Caprice convertible.) Visiting players sit down, too: Bryce Harper swears by him; Mike Trout has come by; and others fly him to their cities for cuts.
Tandron became baseball's barber to the stars by chance. Introduced to Gary Sheffield in 1993 by mutual friends, he cut Sheffield's hair in the utility room at his house and impressed the outfielder so much that the Marlins started calling him to do cuts in the clubhouse.
For Tandron, a Miami native who owns another Headz Up in town, it's surreal: "I feel like I'm really dreaming." It's why Tandron has a tattoo that says "Blessed" over his left eyebrow. Here's a closer look at how Juice keeps it high and tight.
Players like Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, who comes in for a mohawk and beard trim, get the VIP treatment, and Tandron lets them decide what to pay. "I tell them, 'Give me whatever you want, whatever you think.' They take into consideration that I'm not in my other shop [Tandron has a Headz Up barber shop in Miami] making my money over there. They always hook me up. I've gotten as little as $5 one time. And I've gotten as much as $10,000 and a car. The car was a gift from Dontrelle Willis. It's a 1974 Caprice Classic. I call it Charlie Brown."
Although Tandron had some of his gang tattoos removed, he still has more than 100, which are on display when he's giving cuts, such as here with Ozuna. This year he added a memorial tattoo on his right calf of an orange No. 16 in memory of his close friend, the late Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who was killed in a boat wreck in September.
A painting of Fernandez keeps watch over the shop. "He was like a little brother, without the whole baseball sense of it," Tandron said. "His smile was infectious. You fell in love with him. By the time he sat in the chair and got a haircut, we were friends already." Tandron would cut the pitcher's hair before every game that he was scheduled to start. "He was very caring, very loyal," Tandron said. "He wouldn't get his hair cut by anyone but me." He said once he was too busy to cut Fernandez's hair before a start. Fernandez lost the game and never let Tandron forget it.
Tandron, who often mixes it up with players on social media, looks at Christian Yelich's phone. "These guys don't really understand the power they have," Tandron said. Juice's legend has grown with players touting him to millions of followers, such as Bryce Harper's posts showing himself getting a haircut at Headz Up. "Bryce is my boy!" he said. "Bryce is a good friend of mine. He's helped me out a lot. He'll get a cut and put up a picture and tag me or shout me out and it just grows my social media." He now has more than 30,000 followers on his own Instagram account.
The walls at Headz Up are covered with autographs and art from players who come through, from his Marlins clients to players across the league who make it a point to stop in when they're in town. "Not to sound cocky," Tandron said, "but you can hear the guys saying, 'We were in Atlanta but we knew we were coming to Miami so we waited.'"
Miami first baseman Justin Bour takes his turn before a game. Tandron says he tries to be at the shop for about 75 games per season, or nearly every home game, and cuts the majority of the team (except for Ichiro).
The proximity to the clubhouse is convenient for players, such as pitcher AJ Ramos, to wander in with no appointments needed. But that doesn't mean there's no wait.
Dan Straily gets his hair cut and beard trimmed in the shop, a converted closet. But the modest surroundings are still a long way from the utility room in Tandron's house where he started. Still, he makes trips to spring training to cut hair in bathrooms, for the Marlins and the Nationals, another big client base.
While Straily finishes up, Edinson Volquez waits as Dee Gordon hangs out, a bonding experience for players and barber alike. Tandron has built lasting relationships with many of his clients who showed up as young players. "I get along with a lot of guys," Tandron said. "But guys that I can really call family? Juan Pierre, Dontrelle Willis. Livan Hernandez is a really great friend of mine. Especially D-Train and Juan Pierre. Those guys are like brothers."
Volquez adds his autograph to a crowded wall, an unlikely collection given how Tandron's first trip to the clubhouse began. "In May of '98, I got a call from one of the clubhouse guys named Al Torres, who was a friend's dad," Tandron said. "He said, 'Would you be interested in coming in and doing some haircuts? Vida Blue wants to get a haircut.' I said, 'Who the hell's Vida Blue?'" of the former Cy Young winner who was working with the San Francisco Giants. "I showed up with a barber chair, all my tools, my whole arsenal. They said, 'It looks like you're moving in.' They loved it. Vida loved it. I did a couple of more guys for San Francisco that day over there. They asked me to come back the second day of every homestand. Little by little, that's how I got my foot in the door."
As the Marlins' game begins, Tandron's day winds down, and he breaks out the broom to clean up.
Despite all the acclaim and accolades, Tandron sometimes still can't believe his path. "To tell you the truth, I feel like I'm really dreaming. I didn't know a better life before I started doing this with the Marlins," he said. "I was more of hood guy. I stayed in the neighborhood and did my thing there. I thought I would keep working 9 to 5. I dreamt of having a barber shop but never saw the possibility of that. That was all given to me by this. The Marlins played a big role in how I changed my life."