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 #41. 69 different players have donned #41 while playing in Chicago, 28 for the White Sox and 41 for the Cubs, including two future Hall of Famers.
The White Sox claimed Tom Seaver, and his familiar #41, from the Mets on January 20, 1984 as compensation for Dennis Lamp leaving as a free agent. Seaver was a steady force in the rotation, going 15-11 with a 3.95 ERA in his first go around through the junior circuit. The highlight of the year came on May 9, when he pitched the final inning of a suspended, 25 inning contest from the day before and then started the regularly scheduled game against the Brewers, earning the victory in both. With LaMarr Hoyt traded in the offseason, Seaver was on the mound for his 15th opening day in 1985, breaking Walter Johnson’s record of 14 Opening Day starts. On August 4, back in New York against the Yankees, Seaver threw a complete game to earn his 300th career victory. He finished the year with a 16-11 record and a sterling 3.17 ERA. Seaver again got the opening day nod in 1986, extending his record to 16. With the White Sox going nowhere, Seaver, now 41 years old, was looking to return to the east coast to be near his family after the death of his mother in May. When a bum shoulder put him on the disabled list, he informed the White Sox he was thinking of retiring. When manager Tony LaRussa was fired on June 20, his replacement, Jim Fregosi, said Seaver’s wishes should be honored. On June 29, after going 2-6 with a 4.38 ERA in 12 starts, Seaver was traded to the Red Sox for Steve Lyons.
A young Billy Williams, in his second cup of coffee with the Cubs in 1960, donned #41 for 12 games. He hit .277 and knocked out his first two career home runs. The following year, he would switch to his familiar #26, win the Rookie of the Year award, and kick his Hall of Fame career into high gear.