By The Numbers – 39

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 #39.  77 different players have donned #39 while playing in Chicago, 31 for the White Sox and 46 for the Cubs.

First acquired in 1989, Roberto Hernandez, donning #39, 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 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, joining Wilson Alzarez and Danny Darwin in going to the Giants for the collection of Brian Manning, Lorenzo Barcelo, Mike Caruso, Keith Foulke, Bob Howry, and Ken Vining.

On the other side of town, Andrew Chafin wore #39 for the 11 months he was a member of the Cubs.  Acquired on August 31, the trade deadline of the shortened 2020 season, Chafin pitched in 4 games over the final month, posting a 3.00 ERA and retired the only batter he faced in the Wild Card series against the Marlins.  In February, Chafin re-upped with the Cubs and became sort of a cult hero.  On June 24, he was part of a combined no-hitter against the Dodgers.  In 43 appearances for the Cubs in 2021, Chafin recorded a 2.06 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 39.1 innings of work before being traded to the A’s on July 27th.

By The Numbers – 40

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 #40.  55 different players have donned #40 while playing in Chicago, 25 for the White Sox and 30 for the Cubs.

Acquired in mid-June, along with George Frazier and Ron Hassey, from the Indians in exchange for Mel Hall, Joe Carter, Don Schulze, and Darryl Banks, Rick Sutcliffe, wearing #40, quickly became the ace of the Cubs staff, going 16-1 with a 2.69 ERA in leading the Cubs to their first division title and his first Cy Young Award.  He then homered in and won Game 1 of the NLCS, the first post-season game at Wrigley Field since the 1945 World Series, before dropping the deciding Game 5 in San Diego.  A free agent after the season, Sutcliffe signed a long term deal with the Cubs.

A hamstring injury limited him to 20 starts in 1985, while arm injuries in 1986 led him to a 5-14 record with a 4.64 ERA in 28 appearances.  He bounced back in 1987, leading the league with 18 wins in 34 starts for the last place Cubs, finishing second in the Cy Young Award voting.  He went 13-14 in 1988, but did somehow manage a steal of home plate on July 29th in a victory against the Phillies.  A resurgence in 1989 helped lead the Cubs to their second divisional title, and he made one start against the Giants in the NLCS.  Recurring arm injuries caused Sutcliffe to miss most of the 1990 and 1991 seasons, with only 24 appearances between the two years, and the Cubs let him leave as a free agent following the 1991 season.

On the other side of town, Wilson Alvarez was acquired by the White Sox, along with Scott Fletcher and Sammy Sosa, for Harold Baines and Fred Manrique on July 29, 1989, making his White Sox debut on August 11, 1991 by throwing an unlikely no hitter against the Orioles at Memorial Stadium.  He made 8 additional starts for the White Sox down the stretch, finishing the year with a 3-2 record and a respectable 3.51 ERA.  1992 saw Alvarez work mostly out of the bullpen, getting only 9 starts out of his 34 appearances.  He posted a career high 1.674 WHIP, giving up 65 walks in just over 100 innings.  This led to an unfortunate 5.20 ERA, despite a 5-3 record.  In 1993, Alvarez managed to break in to the rotation full time.  Despite leading the league with 122 walks, he finished second in the AL with an ERA of 2.95 and ended up with a 15-8 record as the White Sox won the AL West title for the first time in a decade.  He was the winning pitcher in Game 3 of the ALCS, holding the Blue Jays to a single run while throwing a complete game.

Alvarez improved in 1994, earning his first (and only) All Star nod and cutting his walk total nearly in half, helped by the player strike that ended the season in August, and he finished the year with a 12-8 record and a 3.45 ERA.  When baseball returned in 1995, Alvarez struggled to regain his groove, finishing with a losing record for the first time and an ERA of 4.32.  1996 saw a nice bounce back for Alvarez.  While his ERA was still an elevated 4.22, he tied his career high with 15 wins and set career highs for innings pitched and strikeouts.  He continued to impress in 1997, putting up a 9-8 record with a 3.03 ERA by the end of July, when, with the White Sox a mere 3 games back in the standings, he, along with Danny Darwin and Roberto Hernandez, was sent to the Giants for Brian Manning, Lorenzo Barceló, Mike Caruso, Keith Foulke, Bob Howry, and Ken Vining in what would become known as the White Flag Trade.

#25 – Wilson Alvarez

Name: Wilson Alvarez

Rank: 25

Position: P

Years With White Sox: 1991-1997

Five days after making his major league debut for the Rangers, Wilson Alvarez was acquired by the White Sox, along with Scott Fletcher and Sammy Sosa, for Harold Baines and Fred Manrique on July 29, 1989.  After spending the next 2 calendar years in the minor leagues, Alvarez returned to the big leagues and made his White Sox debut on August 11, 1991, throwing an unlikely no hitter against the Orioles at Memorial Stadium.  With nowhere to go but down from there, he made 8 additional starts for the White Sox down the stretch, finishing the year with a 3-2 record and a respectable 3.51 ERA.

After tossing nearly 300 innings the previous year between winter league, Triple A, and the big leagues, 1992 saw Alvarez work mostly out of the bullpen, getting only 9 starts out of his 34 appearances.  He posted a career high 1.674 WHIP, giving up 65 walks in just over 100 innings.  This led to an unfortunate 5.20 ERA, despite a 5-3 record.

In 1993, Alvarez managed to break in to the rotation full time.  Despite leading the league with 122 walks, he finished second in the AL with an ERA of 2.95 and ended up with a 15-8 record as the White Sox won the AL West title for the first time in a decade.  He was the winning pitcher in Game 3 of the ALCS, holding the Blue Jays to a single run while throwing a complete game.

Alvarez improved in 1994, earning his first (and only) All Star nod and cutting his walk total nearly in half.  Part of that, of course, was due to the player strike that ended the season in August, and he finished the year with a 12-8 record and a 3.45 ERA.  When baseball returned in 1995, Alvarez struggled to regain his groove, finishing with a losing record for the first time and an ERA of 4.32.

1996 saw a nice bounce back for Alvarez.  While his ERA was still an elevated 4.22, he tied his career high with 15 wins and set career highs for innings pitched and strikeouts.  He continued to impress in 1997, putting up a 9-8 record with a 3.03 ERA by the end of July, when, with the White Sox a mere 3 games back in the standings, he, along with Danny Darwin and Roberto Hernandez, was sent to the Giants for Brian Manning, Lorenzo Barceló, Mike Caruso, Keith Foulke, Bob Howry, and Ken Vining in what would become known as the White Flag Trade.

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

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#54 – Keith Foulke

Name: Keith Foulke

Rank: 54

Position: P

Years With White Sox: 1997-2002

Keith Foulke was acquired by the White Sox, along with Brian Manning, Lorenzo Barcelo, Mike Caruso, Bob Howry, and Ken Vining, on July 31, 1997 as part of the White Flag trade that sent Wilson Alvarez, Danny Darwin, and Roberto Hernandez to the Giants.  He appeared in one game for Triple A Nashville before joining the White Sox bullpen for the remainder of the season, putting up a 3.45 ERA in 16 games and earning his first 3 career saves.

1998 saw Foulke serve as the set-up man for closers Matt Karchner and Bill Simas.  He appeared in 54 games, putting up a 3-2 record and a 4.13 ERA.

Foulke returned to the set-up role in 1999 and had an excellent season.  Working over 105 innings spread across 67 games, Foulke was 3-3 with 9 saves, a 2.22 ERA, and a WHIP of 0.883.  His work earned him a tie for 10th place in the Cy Young Award voting.

With Bob Howry struggling as closer in 2000, Foulke stepped in and, saving 34 games, helped the young White Sox win their first division title since 1993.  Appearing in 72 games, he went 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA during the regular season.  Unfortunately, the ALDS did not go as well.  Foulke pitched in 2 of the 3 games against the Mariners, giving up 3 earned runs in 2 and 1/3 innings pitched.

Foulke remained as closer in 2001 and continued to excel.  He lead the AL by finishing 67 games and set a career high with 42 saves while lowering his ERA to 2.33.  Manager Jerry Manuel lost faith in Foulke during 2002 and he finished the year with only 11 saves, one of 3 White Sox pitchers in double digits.  He went 2-4 with an outlandish 2.90 ERA.

On December 3, Foulke, along with Mark Johnson, Joe Valentine, and cash, was traded to the A’s for Billy Koch, Neal Cotts, and Daylan Holt.

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

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#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:

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#158 – Bob Howry

howry

Name: Bob Howry

Rank: 158

Position: P

Years With White Sox: 1998-2002

Acquired in the infamous White Flag trade, Bob Howry joined the White Sox organization on July 31, 1997, along with Keith Foulke, Lorenzo Barcelo, Mike Caruso, Ken Vining, and Brian Manning, from the Giants in exchange for Wilson Alvarez, Danny Darwin, and Roberto Hernandez.  Howry made his major league debut on June 21, 1998, pitching 2 innings of scoreless relief in the White Sox loss to the Twins.

Howry stuck with the big league club and eventually became the closer, saving 9 games down the stretch.  He finished the year 0-3 with a 3.15 ERA in 44 appearances.

Howry remained as the closer for most of 1999, until he was replaced by Keith Foulke.  He finished the year with a winning record, at 5-3, and saw his ERA rise slightly to 3.59.  His 28 saves led the team and was 9th best in the AL.

His most infamous moment in a White Sox uniform came in early 2000, when the White Sox and Tigers were involved in 2 brawls during their April 23 game, which the Sox won 14-6.  Howry was ejected in the 9th inning after hitting Shane Halter, igniting the second brawl of the day and earning himself a 3 game suspension.  Many claim that the brawl united the young White Sox team, spurring them on to winning the AL Central title.  Howry finished the year with a 2-4 record and a 3.17 ERA, picking up 7 saves.  He appeared in 2 of the 3 games against the Mariners in the ALDS, giving up 1 run in 2 2/3 innings.

The White Sox faltered in their bid to repeat as division champs in 2001, and Howry was part of the problem.  His ERA ballooned to 4.69 and he blew more saves than he converted.  He finished the year with a 4-5 record and only 5 saves, giving up more hits than innings pitched for the first time in his career.

Howry bounced back somewhat in 2002, but was still above his career norms for runs and hits allowed.  As the White Sox were floundering at the trade deadline, Howry, despite still being under contract for 2003, was shipped to the Red Sox for Frank Francisco and another minor league pitcher.  “The opportunity presented itself and we told Bobby it was an offer we felt too good to pass up,” GM Kenny Williams said.

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

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#169 – Mike Caruso

mcarusoName: Mike Caruso

Rank: 169

Position: SS

Years With White Sox: 1998-1999

Mike Caruso was the centerpiece coming back to the White Sox, along with Keith Foulke, Bob Howry, Lorenzo Barcelo, Brian Manning, and Ken Vining, in the so-called White Flag trade on July 31, 1997 that sent Wilson Alvarez, Danny Darwin, and Roberto Hernandez to the Giants.  Caruso was a 20 year old in Class A who was expected to be the heir apparent to Ozzie Guillen on the left side of the White Sox infield.  He fought his way on to the opening day roster in 1998, beating out Benji Gil, and became an instant success story.

He made his major league debut on Opening Day 1998, going 1 for 5 in a White Sox victory against the Rangers.  By the time the year was over, he had compiled a .306 average, the highest rookie total by a Sox player since Minnie Minoso in 1951 and the best for a shortstop since Luis Aparicio in 1970.  He finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting, behind winner Ben Grieve and two spots ahead of teammate Magglio Ordonez.

Things started to go south in 1999.  Without veteran third baseman Robin Ventura to cover him, Caruso’s defense, already thought to be suspect, was exposed thanks to a strong arm and shrinking range.  Offensively, his average dropped to .250 and he managed only 17 extra base hits in 529 at bats, for a slugging percentage below .300.  Manager Jerry Manuel called out his young shortstop, for his poor production, lack of preparation, and a general lack of baseball smarts.

The 2000 season saw Caruso back in the minor leagues, thanks to the arrival of Jose Valentin.  While his former teammates went on to win the AL Central, Caruso struggled against minor league pitching before an injury ended his season prematurely.  Following the season, he was designated for assignment and was selected off of waivers by the Mariners.

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

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#224 – Danny Darwin

DARWIN

Name: Danny Darwin

Rank: 224

Position: P

Year With White Sox: 1997

41-year old Danny Darwin signed with the White Sox for his 20th big league season on February 7, 1997.  Darwin was 4-8 with a 4.13 ERA in 17 starts for a White Sox squad that found itself only 3 1/2 games out of first place in the AL Central on July 31.  Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf did not see a bright future for the team, however, and allowed general manager Ron Schueler to pull the trigger on what would become known as the “White Flag” trade, sending Darwin, along with Wilson Alvarez and Roberto Hernandez, to the Giants in exchange for Keith Foulke, Bob Howry, Lorenzo Barcelo, Ken Vining, Mike Caruso, and Brian Manning.

Darwin called it “one of the most bizarre trades I’ve ever seen” and predicted that future free agents may think twice about joining the South Siders.  “If they need one or two players to get over the hump, it may hurt them in the future,” Darwin said. “I think (the trade) will be in the back of some guys’ minds–`Do I want to go over there?’ You hear (Reinsdorf) say: `You’ve got to be crazy to think we’re going to catch Cleveland.’ Do you want to play for someone like that?”

Darwin’s numbers in a White Sox uniform were:

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