By The Numbers – 23

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 #23, one of the most famous and successful numbers in city history across all sports.  67 different players have donned #23 while playing in Chicago, 35 for the White Sox and 31 for the Cubs, including a familiar face for both sides of town.

Robin Ventura made his major league debut donning #23 in September of 1989, appearing in 16 games down the stretch, hitting only .178 while driving in 7 runs in 45 at bats.  A good spring in 1990 led to Ventura breaking camp with the White Sox, but he struggled both on the field and at the plate, suffering through a horrendous 0-for-41 slump while committing 25 errors over the course of the season.  He finished the year with a .249 average, 5 home runs, and 54 RBIs and placed 7th in Rookie of the Year voting and was named to the Topps All Star Rookie team.

Ventura and the White Sox moved in to the new Comiskey Park in 1991, hoping to improve on the previous year’s growth.  He improved his fielding enough to earn his first Gold Glove award and, at the plate, he set a White Sox team record for RBIs by a third baseman, finishing with an even 100.  He upped his average to .284 and hit 23 home runs.  His work was enough to garner enough MVP votes to finish in 20th place.  1992 was another good year for Ventura.  He earned his first All Star nod, going 2-2 in the AL’s victory at Jack Murphy Stadium.  He finished the year with a .282 average, 16 home runs, and 93 RBIs.  He also snagged his second consecutive Gold Glove award.  Ventura continued his successful ways in 1993, collecting his 500th hit in May and, on August 4, entering the public consciousness with an event that would come to define his entire career.  While batting against the Rangers, Ventura was hit by a pitch thrown by Nolan Ryan and charged the mound.  Ryan, 20 years Ventura’s senior, placed him in a headlock and punched him several times, starting a bench-clearing brawl that was voted the best baseball brawl of all time by SportsCenter.  After the season, he was awarded his third consecutive Gold Glove award.

The strike in 1994 saw Ventura’s streak of 90 RBI seasons and Gold Gloves come to an end.  When baseball stopped in August, Ventura was hitting .282 with 18 home runs and 78 RBIs, while posting a new career high with an .832 OPS.  When play resumed in late April 1995, Ventura struggled out of the gate, committing ten errors in the first ten games.  As the White Sox started to tear down the team that had finished the previous two seasons on top of their division, trade rumors started to follow Ventura, though nothing came to fruition.  On September 4, he became the eighth player in history to hit two grand slams in one game, and the first since Frank Robinson in 1970.  He finished the year setting career highs with a .295 average, an .882 OPS, and 26 home runs while driving in 93 runs.  Ventura had the best year of his career to date in 1996, setting White Sox team records in career home runs by a third baseman, with 142, and grand slams, with 9.  He set new career highs with 34 home runs, 105 RBIs, 2 triples, an OPS of .888, and a .974 fielding percentage at the hot corner.  He hit .287, while earning his fourth Gold Glove award.

1997 turned into a dismal year for both Ventura and the White Sox.  During a spring training game, Ventura caught his foot in the mud while sliding into home plate and suffered a broken and dislocated right ankle.  Expected to miss the entire season, he returned on July 24, collecting the game-winning hit that night, and homered in his first at-bat the next night.  With the White Sox only 3.5 games behind the Indians in the standings, a healthy Ventura might have put them over the top.  A week later, the team threw in the towel in what eventually became to be known as the White Flag Trade, sending 3 pitchers to the Giants for prospects.  “We didn’t realize Aug. 1 was the end of the season,” said an upset Ventura.  He finished the year appearing in 54 games, hitting .262 with 6 home runs and 26 RBIs.  Entering the last year of his contract in 1998, the White Sox made little attempt to sign Ventura to an extension, with owner Jerry Reinsdorf claiming his skills were “deteriorating” after his injury the year before.  With more trade rumors following him throughout the season, he finished the year with a .263 average, 21 home runs, and 91 RBIs while earning his fifth Gold Glove award.  Following the season, he became a free agent, ending his White Sox playing career.

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By The Numbers – 25

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.

 

By The Numbers – 28

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 #28.  86 different players have donned #28 while playing in Chicago, 46 for the White Sox and 40 for the Cubs.

Acquired by the Cubs prior to the 1989 season, Mitch Williams, wearing #28, quickly became a beloved cult figure on the north side.  He made an immediate impression, giving up 3 hits to load the bases in the ninth inning on Opening Day before striking out the next three batters, starting with future Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, to close out a one-run victory.  That kickstarted an amazing season for Williams, and the Cubs, as they made a surprise run towards an NL East title.  On April 28th, Williams became the only pitcher in major league history to earn a save without throwing a pitch, entering the game with two outs and picking off runner Carmelo Martinez to end the game.  Williams made the All Star team for the only time in his career and hit his lone career home run, en route to a 4-4 record with 36 saves.  He appeared in two games of the NLCS against the Giants, giving up the game-winning hit to Will Clark in Game 5.

1990 was not quite as good for Williams.  His record dropped to 1-8 while his ERA rose to 3.93.  He earned only 16 saves, a drop of 20 from the previous season, as a knee injury bothered him throughout the year.  The next spring, with the Cubs having acquired Dave Smith to replace him as closer, Williams was traded to the Phillies just prior to Opening Day.

On the other side of town, Joey Cora switched to #28 after the 1991 season, his first with the White Sox.  Cora spent the 1992 season on the bench following the acquisition of Steve Sax, starting only 21 games at second base.  With Sax faltering, Cora became the everyday second baseman in 1993.  He set a career high with 153 games played and hit .268 with a career high 20 stolen bases as the White Sox won their final AL West crown.  Cora struggled in the ALCS, hitting an anemic .136 as the White Sox fell in 6 games to the Blue Jays.

Cora continued to improve in 1994, raising his average again to .276 and had 2 home runs and 30 RBIs when the season came to a premature end due to the player’s strike.  When baseball resumed in 1995, Cora became a free agent and his White Sox playing career came to an end.  He rejoined the organization and once again wore #28 as third base coach for the 2004 season, when Ozzie Guillen was hired as manager.  He moved to became the bench coach after the 2006 season, where he would remain until the end of the 2011 season, when he was fired with 2 games left in the season as part of Guillen’s exit from the team.

2022 Hall Of Fame Ballot – The Newcomers

The BBWAA recently released their ballot for the Hall of Fame class of 2022, with the results of the vote due to be revealed on January 25th with induction returning to its usual July weekend, July 24th to be precise.  With nobody elected in last year’s voting, the new ballot contains 17 holdovers along with 13 newcomers.

Last week, we looked at the returning candidates.  Today, it’s time to look at the newcomers and who may be thankful come January.

Carl Crawford

He was never able to come close to the success he enjoyed as a Ray during the second part of his career.  I would doubt he makes it to a second election.

Prince Fielder

A neck injury ended his career prematurely, which didn’t give him enough of a chance to pile up the numbers that he would have needed for induction.

Ryan Howard

A late start to his career, winning the Rookie of the Year award in his age 25 season, will likely leave the longtime Phillie on the outside looking in.

Tim Lincecum

Lincecum had a 4 year peak that would stack up against anyone, but his career only lasted 10 years and those 6 non-peak years were middling at best and ugly at worst.

Justin Morneau

I mean, he had a nice career and all, with 1600 hits and 247 home runs, but no.

Joe Nathan

He is 8th on the all time saves list, but I don’t think that, or the World Series ring he got for 3 appearances with the 2016 Cubs at the end of his career, will put him over the top.

David Ortiz

OK, now things start to get interesting.  His 541 home runs would normally be a surefire ticket to entry, but there is a slight taint of PED use, right or wrong, to his career.  Will the writers, who have kept Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa, amongst others, out put Ortiz in?  My guess is yes.

Jonathan Papelbon

Yeah, that’s going to be a no.

Jake Peavy

Peavy ended up having a pretty nice career, but nice career’s do not get you to Cooperstown.

A.J. Pierzynski

At first glance, the easy answer is to say no.  But, his 19 year career behind the plate, where his most similar comparison is to Yadier Molina, who most people assume will get in easily once he is eligible, makes you wonder if he will get more support than you would initially think.

Alex Rodriguez

Yet another 10 year referendum on PEDs that we have to look forward to.  If I had to guess, and that is what I am doing here, I’m going to say he never gets in.

Jimmy Rollins

Rollins had a great career, but not enough to be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Mark Teixeira

He’s kind of borderline, but I don’t think he makes it.

2022 Hall Of Fame Ballot – The Holdovers

Earlier this week, the BBWAA released their ballot for the Hall of Fame class of 2022.  The results of the vote are due to be revealed on January 25th, with induction taking place July 24th.  After nobody was elected in last year’s voting, the new ballot contains 17 holdovers along with 13 newcomers.  With this being the last go-around for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa, all of whom are tainted by PEDs, and Curt Schilling, who is an ass, we may see the logjam caused by the current BBWAA rules, which limit the number of votes on one ballot to 10, and the ongoing refusal by some writers to vote for players tainted by PEDs, leaving too many qualified candidates fighting for limited spots, come to an end.

Let’s take a look at the returning candidates today before moving on to the newcomers.

Bobby Abreu
Years on ballot: 2
2021 Percentage: 8.7

A small 3.2% increase for Abreu, but I wouldn’t be making any travel plans to Cooperstown if I were him.

Barry Bonds
Years on ballot: 9
2021 Percentage: 61.8

I just can’t see the all time home run champion getting the increase he will need in his final shot with the baseball writers.

Mark Buehrle
Years on ballot: 1
2021 Percentage: 11.0

The former White Sox hurler picked up a surprisingly healthy amount of support in his first go-around.  I don’t expect he’ll make it, but I feel better about his chances to stay on the ballot than I did last year.

Roger Clemens
Years on ballot: 9
2021 Percentage: 61.6

Roger Clemens, he of the 354 career victories and 7 Cy Young awards, is likely to join Bonds on the outside looking in after his last run through this particular gauntlet.  Especially since, after many years of getting marginally more support than Bonds, they flipped spots last year.

Todd Helton
Years on ballot: 3
2021 Percentage: 44.9

A big 15.7% increase has Helton moving on the right track, as voters remember that it isn’t his fault he played in Colorado.

Tim Hudson
Years on ballot: 1
2021 Percentage: 5.2

The lowest vote getter to return for another shot, I imagine he’ll get a little more support, but not much.

Torii Hunter
Years on ballot: 1
2021 Percentage: 9.5

Things do not look good for the long time Twin and Angel.

Andruw Jones
Years on ballot: 4
2021 Percentage: 33.9

If voters were to stick to his first 11 seasons, Jones looks like a shoe-in for the Hall.  His last 7 seasons, though, were so bad that it makes it hard to consider him.  Despite a 14.5% increase in votes, those final seasons seem to be holding sway.

Jeff Kent
Years on ballot: 8
2021 Percentage: 32.4

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By The Numbers – 33

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 #33.  60 different players have donned #33 while playing in Chicago, 22 for the White Sox and 48 for the Cubs, including a World Series champion.

Aaron Rowand joined the White Sox organization in 1998, selected in the first round of the draft.  He earned his first call up to the show on June 15, 2001 and made his major league debut the following day.  He took over as the starting center fielder in 2002 following the mid-season trade of Kenny Lofton.  Rowand switched to #33 in 2003, but earned a return trip to Triple A in 2003 after hitting .133 in his first 60 games.  After a little more than a month, he returned to the big leagues, hitting .387 the rest of the way and ending the season with a .287 average.

2004 was a breakout year for Rowand, becoming a  full time starter for the first time and setting career highs with a .310 average and .905 OPS.  The good times continued in 2005, as he hit .270 with 13 home runs and, defensively, committed only 3 errors in 394 chances.  Rowand went 4 for 10 against the Red Sox in the ALDS, driving in 2 runs and scoring 3 more in the 3 game sweep.  In the ALCS against the Angels, Rowand managed only 3 hits in the 5 game series, all doubles.  He bounced back in the World Series, going 5-17 against the Astros as the White Sox won their first title in 88 years.  Less than a month after the final out of the World Series, Rowand, among others, was traded to the Phillies for Jim Thome.

On the north side of town, a rookie donned #33 when he made his major league debut on July 30th, 1983.  Joe Carter would appear in 23 games for the Cubs that season, hitting .176 without a home run.  He made his biggest mark for the Cubs the following June, when he was packaged, along with Mel Hall, Don Schulze, and Darryl Banks, in a trade with the Indians which netted Ron Hassey, George Frazier and, of course, Rick Sutcliffe.

2021 Final Standings

The 2021 season, at least the portion which would see me attending games, has come to an end after the White Sox lost to the Astros in the ALDS 3-1.  After a year without in-person baseball thanks to the corona virus, I ended up attending the most games I’ve seen since 2009 and my 5th highest total of all time.  I also managed to travel to four different stadiums, bringing my total up to 27.  All told, I managed to see 25 of the 30 teams a year after seeing none.

2021 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Tampa Bay Rays 3 0 1.000
New York Yankees 2 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 0 1.000
Washington Nationals 1 0 1.000
Philadelphia Phillies 1 0 1.000
Los Angeles Angels 1 0 1.000
San Francisco Giants 1 0 1.000
Boston Red Sox 1 0 1.000
Seattle Mariners 2 1 0.667
Chicago White Sox 29 20 0.592
Cleveland Indians 3 3 0.500
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By The Numbers – 36

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 #36.  83 different players have donned #36 while playing in Chicago, 54 for the White Sox and 29 for the Cubs.

Acquired by the Cubs, along with Bob Dernier and Porfi Altamirano, from the Phillies for Bill Campbell and Mike Diaz near the end of spring training in 1984, Gary “Sarge” Matthews, wearing #36, became a spark plug that helped lead the Cubs to their first ever division title.  Leading the league in walks and OBP, Matthews set a career high with 101 runs scored and finished 5th in MVP voting, behind teammates Ryne Sandberg and Rick Sutcliffe.  He saw a big drop-off in 1985, appearing in only 97 games and hitting a career low .235.  He bounced back a bit in 1986, appearing in 123 games and hitting 21 home runs, his highest total since 1979.  Reduced to a bench player in 1987, Matthews had 42 ABs in 44 games when he was traded to the Mariners on July 11 for a minor league player to be named later.

On the south side of town, Jerry Koosman donned #36 when he joined the White Sox on August 30, 1981 after coming to the White Sox via trade from the Twins.  Koosman appeared in 8 games down the stretch, starting 3, as the White Sox finished 6th in the second half of the crazy strike season.  He returned in 1982, working mostly out of the bullpen but still starting 19 games as the White Sox squandered a quick start to finish in 3rd place.  The veteran lefty spent most of the 1983 season in the starting rotation, but saw his ERA inflate to a career high 4.77.  However, after a shaky start, the White Sox caught fire and Koosman was the starting pitcher on September 17, when the White Sox clinched their first division title.  Koosman made one relief appearance during the ALCS against the Orioles, throwing 1/3 of a disastrous inning in the Game 3 blowout, giving up 1 hit, 2 walks, and 3 runs (2 earned).  He re-upped with the White Sox following the season, but was sent to the Phillies the following spring to complete the trade for Ron Reed.

By The Numbers – 37

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 #37.  74 different players have donned #37 while playing in Chicago, 27 for the White Sox and 47 for the Cubs.

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, wearing #58.  He switched to his more familiar #37 the following year, as he moved in to the closer role full time, replacing Bob James, and racked up 16 saves while also putting up a 7-5 record with a 2.73 ERA.  In 1988, he broke the team record for saves, with 34, while leading the league with 59 games finished.  He duplicated the effort in 1989 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, while also leading the league with 77 games and 73 games finished.  On September 30, he earned his 57th save while throwing the final pitch at Comiskey Park.  After the 1990 season, Thigpen joined other major league all stars on a tour of Japan where, 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.  In 1992, he set a career high with a 4.75 ERA while earning only 22 saves, losing his grip on the closer role to both Scott Radinsky and Roberto Hernandez.  His 1993 was even worse, as his ERA jumped to 5.71 and he managed only 1 save in 25 appearances before an August 10 trade 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.

On the north side of town, pitcher Travis Wood was acquired by the Cubs, along with Dave Sappelt and Ronald Torreyes, in exchange for Sean Marshall.  Wearing #37, Wood was called up to the major league club in early May of 2012, replacing Chris Volstad, who started the season 0–6.  Wood went 6-13 with a 4.27 ERA in his first year as a Cub.  In 2013, Wood became the first Cub since Mordecai Brown to start a season with 9 straight quality starts and, on May 30, he hit his first career grand slam, leading to his first All-Star selection.

Wood struggled in 2014, with a 5.03 ERA in 31 starts, though he did hit his 9th career home run.  After struggling in the rotation to start the 2015 season, Wood was moved to the bullpen, where he fared much better, posting a 2.95 ERA and 4 saves in relief.  Continuing to work out of the bullpen in 2016, Wood posted a 4-0 record with a 2.95 ERA in 77 appearances.  In Game 2 of the NLDS, Wood hit a home run off of Giants’ reliever George Kontos, becoming just the second relief pitcher to homer in a postseason game., after Rosy Ryan in Game 3 of the 1924 World Series.  Wood appeared in 3 games of the 2016 World Series, giving up 2 hits and a run in 1 2/3 innings.  Following the season, he became a free agent.

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.