By The Numbers – 41

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.

By The Numbers – 43

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 #43.  71 different players have donned #43 while playing in Chicago, 23 for the White Sox and 48 for the Cubs.

Dennis Eckersley donned #43 for the Cubs after being acquired on May 25, 1984 from the Red Sox for Bill Buckner.  He went 10-8 with a 3.03 ERA while helping the Cubs into the postseason for the first time since 1945.  He lost Game 3 of the NLCS, giving up 5 runs in 5 1/3 innings pitched in his playoffs debut.  Along with the rest of the Cubs rotation in 1985, Eckersley spent time on the DL, causing the team to drop from a 4-game division lead on June 11 to finishing in 4th place, 23 1/2 games back.  Eckersley returned to full physical strength in 1986, but struggled, going 6-11 with a 4.57 ERA as he battled alcoholism.  After an offseason spent in rehab, Eckersley was traded to the A’s following spring training in 1987, where, he, of course, moved to the bullpen and became a Hall of Famer.

Known as “The Milkman”, Herbert Perry wore #43 when he joined the White Sox on April 21, 2000 after being selected off waivers from the Devil Rays.  Solid defense and a hot bat led to him getting more and more playing time, eventually becoming the everyday third baseman as the White Sox cruised to their first Central Division title.  He finished the year with a .308 average, 12 home runs, and 61 RBIs and was one of the few regulars who continued to hit in the post-season, putting up a .444 average in the ALDS against the Mariners.  Injuries and the acquisition of Royce Clayton limited Perry to 92 games in 2001, as his average dropped to .256 and his home runs fell to 7.  After the season, he was traded to the Rangers for a player to be named later.

Two Sides Of The Same Town

cws-chiFollowing last week’s trade deadline deals, Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel became the 36th and 37th people I’ve seen play in person for both the Cubs and the White Sox.  With the first round of crosstown kicking off this afternoon at Wrigley, here’s a look at those players, in alphabetical order.

David Aardsma

After posting a decent season with the Cubs in 2006, Aardsma was traded to the White Sox for Neal Cotts.  Aardsma lasted one season with the Sox, where he was unable to duplicate his success from the year before.

Jason Bere

Drafted by the White Sox in the 36th round in 1990, Bere debuted with the big league club in 1993, finishing 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting.  After an All Star selection in 1994, injuries marred the remainder of his tenure on the South Side, which ended in 1998.  He resurfaced with the Cubs in 2001 and had a decent season, but he went 1-10 in 2002 before being let go.

Emilio Bonifacio

Bonifacio spent back-to-back partial seasons in Chicago, first for the Cubs in 2014 after signing as a free agent, where he played decently enough to be flipped at the trade deadline, along with James Russell, to the Braves for a young catching prospect by the name of Victor Caratini.  He returned to Chicago in 2015, signing with the White Sox, where he he did not do well at all, hitting .167 in 47 games before being released in August.

Welington Castillo

Debuting with the Cubs in 2010, Castillo spent time behind the plate for the Cubs until May of 2015, when, having been replaced in the starting lineup by Miguel Montero, he was flipped to the Mariners.  He returned to Chicago in 2018 after signing with the White Sox as a free agent.  On May 24th of that season, he was suspended 80 games for a violation of the PED policy.  The White Sox then cut bait following the 2019 season, shipping him off to the Rangers.

Neal Cotts

Acquired by the White Sox in the Billy Koch trade, he debuted with the team in 2003.  He was a key contributor in the bullpen during the 2005 championship season, and was the only relief pitcher to appear in all 3 rounds of the playoffs that season.  Following the 2006 season, he was traded to the Cubs for David Aardsma, and he spent the next 3 injury filled seasons on the North Side.

Scott Eyre

Joining the White Sox organization in a 1994 trade with the Rangers, he debuted with the big league team in 1997.  He split the next 4 seasons between the rotation and the bullpen, not to mention between Chicago and Charlotte, before being moved to the Blue Jays following the 2000 ALDS loss to the Mariners.  He joined the Cubs as a free agent for the 2006 season and enjoyed 2 seasons of relative success, before falling apart in 2008, when he was traded to the Phillies.

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Keeping Our Eyes On Next Year’s Prize

With a little more than 8 weeks remaining in the 2020 season, Major League Baseball released their tentative 2021 schedule yesterday.  For the first time in quite a while, the White Sox will be looking to compete for a title while the Cubs will be “retooling” after trading off all of their stars last week.  Assuming, of course, that the 2022 season goes off as planned and the end of the collective bargaining agreement doesn’t lead to a long work stoppage.  So, for one day, at least, let’s turn our attention to next summer for both teams.

The White Sox open their season at home against the Twins on March 31 for a three game tilt before heading on the road.  Nothing like a potential snowstorm to get the season off to a good start.  They face the Guardians for the first time on April 18 in Cleveland.

The interleague schedule pits the White Sox against the NL West, with trips to San Francisco, Colorado, and San Diego and home series against the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Rockies. The rivalry with their north side foes continues with a 2-game series at Wrigley at the beginning of May and a follow-up at Guaranteed Rate Field Memorial Day weekend.

The season ends with a 6 game road trip to Minnesota and San Diego.

On the north side, the Cubs open their season up on the road in Cincinnati, also on March 31.  They come home the following Monday to open their home slate against the Cardinals.

The interleague schedule pits the Cubs against the AL East, with trips to Baltimore, New York, and Toronto and home series against the Rays, Red Sox, and Orioles.

Of their 28 games in September/October, only 7 are against their NL Central rivals, though, with the Cubs not likely to contend, that shouldn’t make much of a difference.  They end the year with a 6 game homestand, facing the Phillies and the Reds.

End Of The Road

The rebirth of the Cubs, which began with the hiring of Theo Epstein in October of 2011 and culminated with their first World Series title in 108 years, officially came to an end this afternoon, as new GM Jed Hoyer shipped team leader Anthony Rizzo to the Yankees for rookie ball outfielder Kevin Alcantara and High-A righty Alexander Vizcaino.  The Cubs agreed to pay Rizzo’s remaining salary.

Vizcaino, 24, is already on the 40-man roster and ranked as the Yankees 11th best prospect at FanGraphs and 12th at Baseball America.  He is working his way back from a shoulder issue and has posted a combined 9.00 ERA in 6 games across two levels.  Alcantara, 18, is hitting .360 in 8 rookie league games and ranked 7th at FanGraphs and 14th at Baseball America.

Rizzo, who had been drafted by the Red Sox when Epstein and Hoyer were in their front office and was acquired by Hoyer when he became GM of the Padres, was the first big acquisition when the two reunited in Chicago.  He began the 2012 season in Triple A.  Recalled at the end of June, he quickly became a mainstay of the lineup and a crowd favorite, as the Cubs were rebuilding around him.  In 2013, he signed a long term contract extension, which expires at the end of this season.  He cemented his position in Cubs lore by catching the final out of the 2016 World Series, ending the longest championship drought in American professional sports.  However, as the Cubs have struggled to repeat the team success of that season, Rizzo has also struggled in later years, contributing to an offense that has severely regressed since 2016 and was one of the Cubs who refused to get the COVID vaccine, keeping the team below the 85% threshold for this 2021 season.

Rizzo’s numbers in a Cubs uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

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By The Numbers – 45

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 #45. 92 different players have donned #45 while playing in Chicago, but only one of whom notched the final out in a World Series clincher.

Bobby Jenks joined the White Sox organization on December 17, 2004, when he was selected off waivers from the Angels.  After starting the 2005 season in Double A, he was called up to the big league club on July 5 and made his major league debut the following day, ending the season as the closer after Shingo Takatsu proved ineffective and Dustin Hermanson went down with a back injury.  In the ALDS against the Red Sox, he threw 3 scoreless innings and picked up 2 saves in the 3 game sweep.  Thanks to the 4 complete games in the ALCS against the Angels, Jenks was well rested for the World Series.  He appeared in all 4 games against the Astros, throwing 5 innings and earning the save in Games 1 and 4.

With a World Championship under his belt, Jenks became the full time closer in 2006, earning his first All Star nod and becoming the first White Sox pitcher to notch a save in the Mid-Summer Classic.  2007 was a good year for Jenks, as he made his second straight All Star team and tied a major league record by retiring his 41st consecutive batter, becoming the first reliever to achieve the feat.  He continued his dominant ways in 2008, as the White Sox bounced back in to contention, and he threw a scoreless inning and picked up the save in the only White Sox victory in the ALDS against the Rays.

Jenks started to struggle in 2009, as he saw his save total drop to 29, his lowest full-season total to date.  2010 was even worse, as his ERA rose again, to 4.44, and his WHIP was up again as well.  Despite his highest strike out total since 2006, he ended the year with a 1-3 record and only 27 saves.  Following the season, the White Sox declined to tender him a contract for the 2011 season, making him a free agent.

On the north side of town, reliever Tom Gordon donned #45 in 2001 and the first part of 2002, earning 27 saves before being shipped to the Astros for, basically, nothing.

By The Numbers – 46

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 #46. 40 players have donned #52 while playing in Chicago, 34 each for the White Sox and 22 for the Cubs.

Lee Arthur Smith was the 2nd round selection of the Cubs in the 1975 draft.  He made his major league debut on September 1, 1980, becoming a fixture in the Cubs bullpen wearing #46.  He took over the closer role in 1982 and became a force, leading the league in saves in 1983 while earning his first All Star nod and post-season support for both the Cy Young award and MVP.  Following the 1987 season, he was traded to the Red Sox for Al Nipper and Calvin Schiraldi, ending his Cubs career with a 40-51 record and a 2.92 ERA with 180 saves and 342 games finished.  In 2019, he was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee.

On the South side of town, Neal Cotts donned #46 after being acquired by the White Sox, along with Billy Koch and Daylan Holt, from the A’s in exchange for Keith Foulke, Mark Johnson, and Joe Valentine in December of 2002.  He made his major league debut on August 12, 2003, lasting only 2 1/3 innings in a start against the Angels, and made 3 additional starts, finishing the year with an 8.10 ERA in only 13 1/3 innings pitched.  Cotts moved to the bullpen in 2004 and, in 2005, things finally clicked.  He appeared in 69 regular season games and posted a sparkling 1.94 ERA, before facing one batter in the ALDS and becoming the only White Sox reliever to appear in the ALCS, getting the final 2 outs in the Game 1 loss to the Angels.  As the White Sox moved on to their first World Series since 1959, Cotts appeared in all 4 games, winning Game 2 and giving up only 1 hit in an inning and a third.  Cotts reverted back to his previous form in 2006 and, following the season, he was traded across town to the Cubs for fellow relief pitcher David Aardsma.