LSU needed some sort of spark.
The Tigers had just suffered a brutal 13-1 defeat to top-ranked Oregon State. The team was one loss away from being eliminated in the College World Series.
So they decided to have some fun and change up their hairstyles to lighten the mood in the clubhouse.
Senior shortstop Kramer Robertson went with the now-infamous bleach blonde hair while others opted for some “pretty raggedy” mohawks, but one style stood out among the rest.
Freshman pitcher Zack Hess, affectionately known as the “team psycho,” embraced that alter-ego and channeled his inner “Wild Thing” a la Rick Vaughn from the movie Major League. He shaved a lightning bolt, zigzag pattern into the back of his head. The hairdo coupled with his intimidating mound presence—Hess towers over hitters at 6-foot-6—stole the show at the CWS.
So much so, that a close friend of Charlie Sheen, who played Vaughn in the film, sent Hess a replica pair of the iconic Wild Thing glasses.
“I had no idea it was going to blow up to that proportion,” Hess, 20, says. “I thought we were just doing a team-building exercise, and everyone was having fun with it. The next thing you know you’re on ESPN and everything. It was a lot of fun for sure just being able to live that alter ego, in a sense.”
Hess didn’t just walk the walk, either. He backed it up with his play on the mound.
The hard-throwing right-hander appeared in each of LSU’s next three games in Omaha, recording nine strikeouts in 4.1 innings of work along with a pair of saves as the Tigers churned out three straight wins to advance to the CWS Final.
Hess finished the season with a 7-1 record to go along with his 3.12 ERA. The sophomore gunslinger is now heading into 2018 looking to be a leader among the depleted pitching staff that will have to replace all three weekend starters from last season. lsusports.net
5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT HIM
1. Hess struck out a whopping 83 batters his freshman season. That mark put him second on the team behind starting pitching ace Alex Lange (150), who more than doubled Hess’ innings pitched.
2. Hess had never worked as a reliever prior to 2017. He isn’t sure if he’ll return to his role as the team’s dominant closer or go back to his roots as a starting pitcher this year. And he doesn’t quite care. “Whether it’s starting, relieving, closing—that doesn’t make a difference to me. I just want to help our team win.”
3. He’s only been pitching for five years. He played first base and outfield before becoming a pitcher in high school.
4. Hess is a movie buff. Perkins Rowe has become his favorite Baton Rouge hangout, especially on Tuesday nights when the Cinemark theater offers a student discount.
5. He’s originally from Virginia. He was a longtime Virginia Tech commit before pledging to LSU his senior year of high school.
HOW TO HUM IT LIKE HESS
Click here to read about the rest of the People To Watch in 2018.
This article was originally published in theJanuary 2018 issue of 225 Magazine.