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.