By The Numbers – 58

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 #58.  25 players have donned #58 while playing in Chicago, 20 for the White Sox and 5 for the Cubs.

Catcher Geovany Soto donned #58 during three cups of coffee with the Cubs, in 2005 – 2007.  Earning increased playing time each year, he garnered a single at bat in 05, 25 in 06, and 54 in 07.  He finally broke through in 2008, changing his number to #18 while earning Rookie of the Year honors.  He remained the main backstop for the team until the 2012 season, when he was traded to the Rangers in August.

On the south side of town, Bobby Thigpen wore #58 during his first go-around with the team, going 2-0 with a 1.77 ERA in 20 games for the 1986 White Sox.  He switched to #37 the following year, which he wore for the remainder of his White Sox career, which ended with a 1993 trade to the Phillies.

#22 – Bobby Thigpen

Name: Bobby Thigpen

Rank: 22

Position: P

Years With White Sox: 1986-1993

Selected in the fourth round of the 1985 draft, Bobby Thigpen made his major league debut for the White Sox just over a year later, throwing 3 innings of mop-up relief in a 9-0 loss to the Red Sox on August 6 at Fenway Park.  He made 20 appearances over the final 2 months of the season, going 2-0 with a 1.77 ERA and 7 saves.

In 1987, Thigpen moved in to the closer role full time, replacing Bob James.  In 51 games, Thigpen racked up 16 saves while also putting up a 7-5 record with a 2.73 ERA.

Thigpen broke the White Sox team record for saves in 1988, with 34, while leading the league with 59 games finished.  He ended the year with a 5-8 record and a 3.30 ERA.  In 1989, he duplicated the effort with another 34 saves, though with a 2-6 record and a 3.76 ERA.

Thigpen’s 1990 season was one for the record books.  He earned his first All Star nod while on his way to setting the major league record with 57 saves.  He also led the league with 77 games and 73 games finished.  He ended the year with a 4-6 record and a 1.83 ERA as the surprising White Sox competed for the division title.  On September 30, he earned his 57th save while throwing the final pitch at Comiskey Park.  His year earned him 4th place in Cy Young Award voting and 5th place in Most Valuable Player considerations.

After the 1990 season, Thigpen joined other major league all stars on a tour of Japan.  Unfortunately, he would suffer a back injury that would plague him for the remainder of his career.  In 1991, he still managed to earn 30 saves, but his ERA jumped up to 3.49.

Thigpen struggled in 1992, setting a career high with a 4.75 ERA.  He earned only 22 saves, losing his grip on the closer role to both Scott Radinsky and Roberto Hernandez.  1993 was even worse, as his ERA jumped to 5.71 and he managed only 1 save in 25 appearances.  On August 10, he was traded to the Phillies for former teammate Jose DeLeon.  He left as the franchise’s all time leader with 201 saves, a position he still holds today.

Thigpen rejoined the White Sox organization in 2007, managing and coaching throughout the minor league system.  In 2013, he became the bullpen coach for the big league team, a position he held through the 2016 season.

Thigpen’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

Continue reading →

#49 – Matt Thornton

Name: Matt Thornton

Rank: 49

Position: P

Years With White Sox: 2006-2013

Matt Thornton was acquired by the White Sox from the Mariners towards the end of spring training in 2006 in exchange for Joe Borchard.  Thornton moved in to the bullpen and, working with pitching coach Don Cooper, started to harness the potential that was in his left arm.  He finished the 2006 season with a 5-3 record and a 3.33 ERA in 63 appearances.

2007 was a down year for the White Sox, and Thornton was no exception.  In 68 appearances, his ERA skyrocketed to 4.79.

Thornton, and the White Sox, bounced back in 2008.  He finished the regular season with a 5-3 record and a 2.67 ERA in 74 appearances.  He made 3 appearances in the ALDS, throwing 3 and 1/3 scoreless innings as the White Sox fell to the Rays in 4 games.

2009 saw Thornton continue to be successful in the bullpen.  He finished the year 6-3 and notched his second straight sub-3.00 ERA while appearing in 70 games.

Thornton earned his first All Star nod in 2010, despite being a set-up man.  In only 61 appearances, his lowest total since joining the White Sox, he finished 5-4 with a 2.67 ERA.

In 2011, Thornton started to show some chinks in the armor.  His ERA rose above 3.00 for the first time since 2007, rising to 3.32, and he finished the year with a 2-5 record in 62 appearances.  He was given the opportunity to close, but 4 straight blown saves between April 6 and 13 moved him back to the set-up role.

2012 was more of the same for Thornton.  His ERA rose again, to 3.46, and his record dropped to 4-10 in 74 appearances, surpassing Bobby Thigpen for the team record in career relief outings.  On April 11, he made Travis Hafner the 500th strikeout victim of his career.

Thornton went winless for the White Sox in 2013, and again saw his ERA go up, now to 3.86.  He made 40 appearances before July 12, when he was traded to the White Sox for minor leaguer Brandon Jacobs.

Thornton’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were: Continue reading →

#64 – Jose DeLeon

deleonName: Jose DeLeon

Rank: 64

Position: P

Years With White Sox: 1986-1987, 1993-1995

Jose DeLeon was acquired by the White Sox on July 23, 1986 from the Pirates for Bobby Bonilla.  As the White Sox rolled towards a 5th place finish and a 90 loss season, DeLeon was a bright spot, going 4-5 in his 13 starts with a 2.96 ERA.

1987 was another disappointing year for the White Sox, but DeLeon was a stalwart of the rotation, going 11-12 with a 4.02 ERA.  The following February, he was traded to the Cardinals for Ricky Horton and Lance Johnson.

DeLeon rejoined the White Sox on August 10, 1993, acquired from the Phillies for Bobby Thigpen.   He appeared in 11 games over the final two months of the season, putting up a 1.74 ERA as the White Sox won their first division title in 10 years.  DeLeon did not appear in the ALCS, which the White Sox lost to the Blue Jays in 6 games.

DeLeon returned to the White Sox bullpen for the 1994 season, going 3-2 with a 3.36 ERA in 42 games before the strike ended the year on August 12.  When play resumed the following year, DeLeon had lost his mojo.  He went 5-3 with a 5.19 ERA in 38 games prior to being traded to the Expos on August 28 for Jeff Shaw.

DeLeon’s numbers in a White Sox uniform were:

Continue reading →

#69 – Roberto Hernandez

roberto-hernandezName: Roberto Hernandez

Rank: 69

Position: P

Years With White Sox: 1991-1997

Roberto Hernandez was acquired by the White Sox, along with Mark Doran, via trade with the Angels in exchange for Mark Davis on August 4, 1989.  After falling victim to numbness in his hands caused by blood clots and emergency surgery to transplant veins from his thigh into his forearm, he made his major league debut on September 2, 1991, getting the start and going 7 innings for the victory in the White Sox win over the Royals.  He appeared in 9 games in the final month of the season, making the only 3 starts of his career, and finished the year with a 7.80 ERA.

In 1992, Hernandez split the year between Triple A Vancouver and Chicago, eventually supplanting Bobby Thigpen as the team’s primary closer.  He finished the year with 12 saves and a sparkling 1.65 ERA.

Hernandez had another great year in 1993, saving 38 games in 70 appearances with a 2.29 ERA as the White Sox won their final AL West title.  During the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Hernandez threw 4 scoreless innings in 4 appearances, earning 1 save.

In the strike-shortened 1994 season, Hernandez struggled.  His ERA jumped to 4.91 and he saved only 14 games before the season ended on August 12, despite leading the league in games finished.

When baseball returned in 1995, Hernandez bounced back somewhat, once again leading the league in games finished and lowering his ERA by nearly a full run to 3.92.

1996 was a true return to form for Hernandez.  He led the league in games finished for the third straight year and lowered his ERA by 2 full runs to 1.91.  He earned his first All Star selection and, with 38 saves, finished 6th in Cy Young Award voting.

Hernandez was well on his way to another strong season in 1997, with 27 saves and a 2.44 ERA, when he was included in the infamous White Flag trade on July 31.  With Jerry Reinsdorf announcing that “Anyone who thinks we can catch Cleveland is crazy,” Hernandez, along with Wilson Alzarez and Danny Darwin, to the Giants for Brian Manning, Lorenzo Barcelo, Mike Caruso, Keith Foulke, Bob Howry, and Ken Vining.

Hernandez’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

Continue reading →

2014 Tickets – Southside Edition

Word came down yesterday afternoon that Cub season tickets had started to arrive, so imagine my surprise when I got home and found this sitting on my doorstep:

2014soxbox

Inside the box were the two ticket books, a collection of parking passes, and some miscellaneous paperwork.  The tickets themselves have returned to a portrait orientation, and feature photos of all-time White Sox greats.

Continue reading →