By The Numbers – 50

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #50.  63 different players have donned #50 while playing in Chicago, 25 for the White Sox and 38 for the Cubs.

John Danks was acquired by the White Sox from the Rangers for Brandon McCarthy following the 2006 season.  He broke camp with the Sox in 2007, making his major league debut on April 8 against the Twins at US Cellular Field, and finished the year with a 6-13 record and a 5.50 ERA.  2008 was a different story, as he posted quite possibly the best outing of his career in game 163, throwing 8 scoreless innings of 2 hit ball against the Twins to secure the Central Division title.  He finished the year with a career-best 3.32 ERA, a 12-9 record, and the lone White Sox victory in the ALDS against the Rays.

Danks had continued success in both 2009 and 2010, combining for a 28-22 record over the two years, with an ERA in the 3.70s both years.  2011 wasn’t quite as good, as his ERA jumped to 4.33, but the White Sox signaled their faith in Danks, signing him to a 5 year extension worth $65 million.  It turned out to be ill-advised.  Danks struggled through 9 starts in 2012 before hitting the disabled list with a mysterious shoulder injury.  When he finally underwent surgery, doctors found a torn shoulder capsule.  Very few pitchers have undergone this surgery, and even fewer have successfully returned to the same level they were before the injury.

Sadly, Danks’ recovery did not happen as anyone would have wanted, though not for a lack of effort.  He returned in 2013, making 22 starts and going 4-14 with a 4.75 ERA.  2014 was more of the same, as his ERA was 4.74, though his record improved to 11-11.  And 2015, again, saw Danks put up an ERA of 4.71 in 30 starts.  In 2016, Danks, in the final season of his contract and due $14.25 million, went 0-4 with a 7.25 ERA in April.  With the surprising White Sox in first place after 1 month and with Danks accounting for half of the team’s losses, being an innings eater was no longer good enough.  He was designated for assignment on May 3, ending his White Sox career.

On the north side of town, Les Lancaster donned #50 for 5 seasons with the Cubs, making his debut on April 7, 1987 against the Cardinals.  His best season came in 1989, when he went 4-2 with a 1.36 ERA in 42 games as the surprising Cubs took home their second NL East title.  He threw 6 innings in the NLCS against the Giants, winning game 2 and losing game 3.  He was released by the Cubs at the end of spring training in 1992.

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