Former Yankee Oscar Gamble, known for his giant Afro and lefty power, dead at 68

Oscar Gamble, the sweet-swinging left-handed power hitter with the Yankees most famously known for his oversized Afro hairstyle, died Wednesday. He was 68 years old.

Gamble’s agent, Andrew Levy, confirmed his death to MLB.com, although no cause of death has been reported.

“Saddened to hear about the passing of Oscar Gamble. A great man, and a great friend of the Museum throughout the years,” the Yogi Berra Museum tweeted on Wednesday. “We'll miss you, Oscar.”

Gamble spent seven of his 17 seasons in the majors with the Yankees during the late 1970s and ‘80s, mostly serving as a platoon player in the outfield and at designated hitter.

Upon being acquired for pitcher Pat Dobson in 1976, Gamble was forced by George Steinbrenner to cut his trademark hair. But a well-known baseball card that year depicting Gamble with his hair oozing out from both sides from beneath his Yankees cap became his calling card for the rest of his career and later in life.

"I sign those cards all the time," Gamble told the Daily News in 2008. "When I've been at the Stadium, they always put that big Afro on the scoreboard and I get a good hand. I didn't know how famous it would get. A lot of people were wearing Afros.”

Oscar Gamble through the years:

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Oscar Gamble through the years
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Oscar Gamble through the years
UNDATED: Oscar Gamble of the Philadelphia Phillies poses for a portrait. Oscar Gamble played for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1970-1972. (Photo by Louis Requena/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
UNDATED: Oscar Gamble of the Philadelphia Phillies poses for an action portrait. Oscar Gamble played for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1970-1972. (Photo by Louis Requena/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - CIRCA 1973: Oscar Gamble #23 of the Cleveland Indians bats against the Detroit Tigers during a Major League Baseball game circa 1973 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Gamble played for the Indians from 1973-75. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - CIRCA 1975: Oscar Gamble #23 of the Cleveland Indians bats against the Detroit Tigers during a Major League Baseball game circa 1975 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Gamble played for the Indians from 1973-75. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
BRONX, NY - UNDATED: Oscar Gamble of the New York Yankees poses for an action portrait. Oscar Gamble played for the New York Yankees in 1976 and again from 1979-1984. (Photo by Louis Requena/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - CIRCA 1975: Oscar Gamble #23 of the Cleveland Indians bats against the Detroit Tigers during a Major League Baseball game circa 1975 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Gamble played for the Indians from 1973-75. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
BRONX, NY - UNDATED: Oscar Gamble of the New York Yankees poses for a portrait. Oscar Gamble played for the New York Yankees in 1976 and again from 1979-1984. (Photo by Louis Requena/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - CIRCA 1977: Oscar Gamble #17 of the Chicago White Sox dives into third base against the New York Yankees during a Major League Baseball game circa 1977 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Gamble played for the White Sox in 1977 and 1985. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - CIRCA 1976: Oscar Gamble #17 of the New York Yankees bats during an Major League Baseball game circa 1976 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Gamble played for the Yankees in 1976 and from 1979-84. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - CIRCA 1977: Oscar Gamble #17 of the Chicago White Sox bats against the New York Yankees during a Major League Baseball game circa 1977 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Gamble played for the White Sox in 1977 and 1985. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - CIRCA 1977: Oscar Gamble #17 of the Chicago White Sox looks on from the on-deck circle against the Baltimore Orioles during a Major League Baseball game circa 1977 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Gamble played for the White Sox in 1977 and 1985. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
APRIL 9: Oscar Gamble of the San Diego Padres grabs his bat in the dugout during a April 9, 1978 season game. Oscar Gamble played for the San Diego Padres in 1979. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
APRIL 9: Oscar Gamble of the San Diego Padres walks with his bat from the dugout during a April 9, 1978 season game. Oscar Gamble played for the San Diego Padres in 1979. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - CIRCA 1979: Oscar Gamble #7 of the Texas Rangers puts the ball in play and runs towards first base against the New York Yankees during a Major League Baseball game circa 1979 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Gamble played for the Rangers in 1979. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - CIRCA 1979: Oscar Gamble #7 of the Texas Rangers bats against the New York Yankees during a Major League Baseball game circa 1979 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Gamble played for the Rangers in 1979. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 1981: Oscar Gamble of the New York Yankees bats against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the World Series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California in October of 1981. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - CIRCA 1982: Oscar Gamble #17 of the New York Yankees bats during a Major League Baseball game circa 1982 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Gamble played for the Yankees in 1976 and from 1979-84. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - CIRCA 1982: Oscar Gamble #17 of the New York Yankees bats during an Major League Baseball game circa 1982 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Gamble played for the Yankees in 1976 and from 1979-84. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - CIRCA 1982: Oscar Gamble #17 of the New York Yankees bats during an Major League Baseball game circa 1982 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Gamble played for the Yankees in 1976 and from 1979-84. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
MARCH - 1983: Oscar Gamble of the New York Yankees watches the flight of the ball as he follows through on a swing during a MLB season game circa March of 1983. Oscar Gamble played for the New York Yankees in 1976 and from 1979-1984. (Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 01: Former New York Yankee Oscar Gamble is introduced during the Yankees 66th Annual Old Timers day before the game against the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium on July 1, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees defeated the White Sox 4-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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Gamble, a popular Yankee whenever he returned for Old-Timers’ Day ceremonies or at the team’s fantasy camps, said he’d often receive calls from reporters during his retirement whenever the subject of an incoming player needing to trim his hair arose.

On his first day of spring training with the Bombers, Gamble was informed he wouldn’t receive a pinstriped uniform until he complied with the team’s grooming policy — and the Yanks arranged for a car to take him to a local barber.

He even claimed that Steinbrenner’s infamous policy caused him to miss out on a potential endorsement deal with Afro Sheen, although The Boss later worked out a financial deal with Gamble to offset the lost income.

"It cost about $75-80, even back then," Gamble said. "When I got back, all my teammates were waiting, they were rubbing my head, taking pictures. It was time for it to go."

Gamble, who was discovered on the Alabama sandlots by the legendary Buck O'Neil when the latter served as a scout for the Cubs, was traded to the White Sox in 1977 for shortstop Bucky Dent. But he was reacquired from Texas two years later for outfielder Mickey Rivers and spent six more seasons in the Bronx.

While he once boasted about himself, "When I'm at bat, I'm in scoring position,” Gamble earned more than 300 at-bats just once during his tenure in New York.

Still, he proved to be a dangerous weapon off the bench, clubbing 87 of his 200 career home runs. He went 5-for-9 with two home runs in four games in the AL Division Series against Milwaukee en route to a World Series appearance in 1981. He also spent time with the Cubs, Phillies, Indians, Rangers and Padres.

"I think I could have been a better player. I wanted to play more, but I appreciate what I got a chance to do,” Gamble said. “I was platooning, so I didn't put up the numbers I thought I could, but I got to play in a couple World Series (in 1976, 1981). When I got 400 at-bats, I did real well and that's one of the things I'm proud of."

RELATED: Old Yankee Stadium
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