Shortly before a game against the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 15, 1991, manager Stump Merrill called Mattingly into his office and told him he had to cut his hair or he could not play that night.
Mattingly refused, and was replaced in the lineup by Kevin Maas in a 5-1 win for New York.
"It kind of made me mad," Mattingly said before the Dodgers' game Tuesday night in Milwaukee. "We were the second-chance club. We always would bring in guys that had problems somewhere else.
"I had been on the team for six or seven years, never been out late, played hurt, in on time, no controversy," he said. "I'm thinking, 'You're going to tell me an hour and a half before the game if I don't cut my hair I don't play? I thought about it and said, 'You know what? I'm not playing.'"
Mattingly said he was called into the front office the next day and the organization apologized.
"If someone would have said, 'Go get your hair cut,' I would have said, 'OK,'" he said. "It was just the demand. I felt like I had never done anything but played hard. Whatever they asked, I did."
Soon after, Mattingly got his hair cut and the clippings were auctioned for charity, raising $3,000, he said.