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In 1998, Tandron began cutting hair in a football-training room accessible to both the visiting and home teams. He has bounced around the stadium ever since. He can tame rotund reliever Renyel Pinto's "Latin Jheri curl." Kojak-domed right fielder Cody Ross periodically needs his head scraped clean. And Tandron became expert at shaping the Dolph Lundgren-esque blond spikes of former Marlins catcher Mike Jacobs, who even had a name for his hairstyle: "the MJ-17."
Tandron never charges a set price for players' haircuts, but they usually take care of him with a few folded 20s. His first $100 tip came from veteran center fielder Marquis Grissom. "That's all for you," Grissom told the barber when he went to make change. "It's a Major League haircut."
The most he has received in cash is $850 from then-Marlins pitcher Brad Penny, who had Tandron drive to his Jupiter apartment before a spring training start. The monster check wasn't even for a full haircut: Penny just wanted his beard trimmed.
The nomadic nature of Marlins players works to Tandron's advantage. Former team members Sheffield, Lee, and Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez have flown Tandron to their new squads' cities to cut their teammates' hair. He has worked in eight Major League stadiums, and during spring training, he makes the rounds in the Grapefruit League.
No player has forged a tighter bond with Tandron than Willis, the gangly Californian who lived in Miramar when he pitched for the Marlins. Willis says he spent "five or six days a week in Hugo's shop," and the two men's families bonded. "I just gravitated towards him. He's from the streets, but no matter what he's been through, he's a very sweet, kindhearted person."
They were such fast friends, in fact, that in 2007, Willis surprised Tandron with a cherry-red 1974 Chevy Caprice Classic. It made the heavily-inked ex-con weep. "That's my baby, dude," Tandron says as he flashes a photo of the gaudy vehicle on his iPhone.
The Major League gifts have helped Tandron's year-round operations gain more gilded environs than a utility closet. He opened Headz Up Barbershop in Hialeah eight years ago and now employs ten barbers including, sometimes, his 21-year-old son Willie, a Florida Memorial University student.
And Tandron has spread his good fortune. One of his barbers is 37-year-old Erron "Bigg Cutt" Evans, who last December returned from a 16-year prison stint for home invasion. In the pen, Evans mastered the art of the fade and the lineup. "I'm not one of those holy-roller types," Evans says. "But it feels like God reached through Hugo to help me out."