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 #25. 87 different players have donned #25 while playing in Chicago, 51 for the White Sox and 36 for the Cubs.
Acquired by the Cubs following the 2003 season for Hee Seop Choi, Derrek Lee, wearing #25, quickly became a mainstay of the Cubs lineup. He hit .278 with 32 home runs and 98 RBIs in his first year on the north side. 2005 was a career year for Lee, and that was just in the first half. He led the majors with a .376 average and 72 RBIs while tying for the lead with 27 home runs. For the full season, he hit 46 home runs and a .335 average, the highest for a Cub since Bill Madlock in 1976 and he notched the first batting title for a Cub since Bill Buckner in 1980. When it was all said and done, he had won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards and finished third in MVP voting.
A broken wrist limited Lee to 50 games in 2006, but he rebounded in 2007 to hit .317 with 22 home runs as the Cubs won their first NL Central title since 2003. Lee went 4 for 12 as the Cubs were swept in 3 games by the Diamondbacks. Another strong season in 2008, with a .291 average, 20 home runs, and 90 RBIs helped push the Cubs back to the post-season. Lee did all he could, hitting .545 in the NLDS against the Dodgers, but the Cubs were once again swept. Lee overcame a slow start in 2009 thanks to a 21 game hitting streak and finished with a .306 batting average, 35 home runs and 111 RBIs, which earned him enough votes to finish ninth in MVP voting.
2010 was a strange year for Lee and the Cubs. On June 9th, he hit his 300th career home run. Later that month, however, he would get in to a fight in the dugout with Carlos Zambrano, which led to a suspension for Zambrano. In the last year of his contract and with the team going nowhere fast, Lee was traded to the Braves on August 18th, ending his Cub tenure.
Looking to reload after winning their first World Series championship in 88 years, the White Sox acquired Jim Thome from the Phillies for Aaron Rowand, Gio Gonzalez, and Daniel Haigwood. Thome, wearing his familiar #25, made an immediate impact, setting a major league record by scoring in each of Chicago’s first 17 games and setting the team record with 10 home runs in April. By season’s end, Thome had put up a .288 average with 42 home runs, 102 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.014. One of the few bright spots for the 2007 White Sox came in mid-September, when Thome, on his bobblehead day, launched his 500th career home run, the first player to do so on a walk-off. For the year, Thome hit .275, with 35 home runs and 96 RBIs. 2008 was a bit of a down year for Thome, as his average and OPS both fell, but he still managed 34 home runs and 90 RBIs. The most important of each came in the 163rd game of the year, as he hit a solo home run to give the White Sox a 1-0 victory over the Twins and the Central Division title. With the White Sox going nowhere in 2009, Thome was traded to the Dodgers on August 31 for a warm body.