By The Numbers – 39

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.

Hall Of Fame Batting Leaders



Thanks to the corona virus, the Hall of Fame Class of 2020, former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Expos and Rockies legend Larry Walker, former Cardinal and Brewer backstop Ted Simmons, and union boss Marvin Miller, finally get their day in the sun in Cooperstown alongside, well, the empty class of 2021.  With two new hitters joining the list of Hall of Famers I’ve seen play live and an additional historical game identified, let’s check back in with the leaders on the offensive side of the ball amongst Hall of Famers for all of the games I’ve attended between 1984 and 2020.

Home Runs

Name Total
Jim Thome 35
Frank Thomas 15
Vladimir Guerrero 6
Ivan Rodriguez 4
Chipper Jones 3
Harold Baines 3
Carlton Fisk 3

Hits

Name Total
Jim Thome 110
Frank Thomas 54
Ken Griffey Jr 32
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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.

Fitbit VII – Week 31

A pretty decent week, all things considered, as I notched my first 10,000 step day since May.  Things got off to a decent enough start on Sunday, as I made a return trip to Tropicana Field to watch a horrible baseball game, finishing with 5100 steps.  Things improved a bit on Monday, as I relaxed for my last day in Florida and chalked up 5400 steps.  On Tuesday morning, I hopped in the car and headed to Atlanta, where an ill-advised uphill walk to Truist Park to watch the Braves and the Yankees put me 10 steps shy of 10,900.  I left Atlanta on Wednesday and headed for home, which left me with only 4700 steps.  Going back to work on Thursday left me with a depressing 3500 steps.  The return of crosstown baseball on Friday lifted me back up to 4600 steps.  The return trip to Guaranteed Rate Field on Saturday was another improvement, leaving me 4 steps away from 5500.

Total steps: 39,888

Daily average: 5698.3

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 – 42

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 #42.  41 different players donned #42 while playing in Chicago, 18 for the White Sox and 23 for the Cubs, prior to its league-wide retirement for Jackie Robinson in 1997.

Ron Kittle made his major league debut for the White Sox, with #42 on his back, on September 2, 1982, pinch hitting for Aurelio Rodriguez and striking out in the White Sox 6-5 victory over the Rangers at Comiskey Park.  Kittle got sporadic playing time over the final month of the season, earning just 29 at bats in 20 games while hitting .241 with a single home run.  He broke out in a big way in 1983, earning an All Star nod and finishing the year with a team rookie record of 35 home runs while hitting .254 and driving in 100 as the White Sox notched their first division title.  Kittle was knocked out of the ALCS against the Orioles after getting hit by a pitch in Game 3, finishing the series with just 2 hits in 7 at bats, but still easily earned Rookie of the Year honors.

1984 was a bit of a letdown for Kittle, as he failed to perform up to the expectations set the previous year, falling to a .215 average.  His power numbers remained, as he clubbed 32 home runs, but his OPS was down by 70 points.  There was a slight improvement in 1985, with his average improving to .230, but he hit only 26 home runs and drove in just 58 runs in 116 games.  In 1986, Kittle was hitting .213 with 17 home runs at the trade deadline when he, along with Joel Skinner and Wayne Tolleson, were sent to the Yankees for Ron Hassey, Carlos Martinez, and a player to be named later.  He re-signed with  the White Sox prior to the 1989 season, but injuries limited Kittle to just 51 games and, in 169 at bats, he hit .302 with 11 home runs and 37 RBI.  He returned in 1990, seeing his average drop to .245 with 16 home runs in 83 games when, again at the trade deadline, he was sent to the Orioles in exchange for Phil Bradley.  Kittle returned for one final hurrah with the White Sox in 1991, signing as a free agent on June 19 before being released on August 15.  In between, he appeared in 17 games and hit only .191 with 2 home runs.

On the north side, relief pitcher Bruce Sutter wore #42 during his 5 years with the Cubs from 1976 through 1980.  Over that time, he piled up 4 All Star nods, numerous MVP votes, and a Cy Young Award.  However, a lock down All Star closer is a luxury for a team that never managed to finish over .500 during those 5 years, so Sutter was dealt to the Cardinals in December of 1980, for Leon Durham, Ken Reitz, and Ty Waller.

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.

By The Numbers – 44

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 #44.  57 different players have donned #44 while playing in Chicago, 39 for the White Sox and a mere 18 for the Cubs.

Anthony Rizzo was acquired by the Cubs on January 6, 2012, the first piece of the rebuilding puzzle that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer brought to Chicago after their hiring.  He started the 2012 season in Triple A, but eventually earned the promotion and took over first base,  In 2014, he earned his first All Star nod and his first MVP votes.  In 2015, as the Cubs made a surprising run to the NLCS, Rizzo led the league in games and plate appearances and placed fourth in MVP voting.

In 2016, Rizzo replicated his fourth place MVP finish while also picking up a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award as he helped lead the Cubs to their first World Series title in 108 years.  On Opening Night in 2017, he walked the Commissioner’s Trophy on to the field (following a long rain delay).  He finished that year with more MVP attention as the Cubs made their third straight NLCS, losing to the Dodgers.  Rizzo added 3 additional Gold Gloves to his collection from 2018 – 2020.  The shine rubbed off of Rizzo a little in June of 2021, as he announced, on the day Chicago opened back up from COVID restrictions, that he had decided not to get vaccinated, leaving the Cubs as one of 8 teams still under restrictions for failing to reach the 85% plateau.  He was then, of course, traded to the Yankees and, just this morning, was placed on the IL with COVID.

On the other side of town, Dan Pasqua donned #44 after being acquired from the Yankees for Richard Dotson following the 1997 season.  His first season with the White Sox ended with a career high 20 home runs despite a disappointing .227 average, but a broken wrist suffered during the first week of the 1989 season limited him to just 73 games and 11 home runs.  Pasqua lost his regular slot in the lineup in 1990, as manager Jeff Torborg decided to start Sammy Sosa every day.  He appeared in 112 games, but had only 325 at bats despite a .274 average.

1991 saw Pasqua appear in a career high 134 games, with a .259 average and 18 home runs, his highest total since 1988.  A hamstring injury reduced Pasqua’s playing time again in 1992 and, with George Bell and Bo Jackson splitting time at DH in 1993, Pasqua again was the odd man out.  Pasqua’s 1994 season was cut short by arthroscopic knee surgery in May, which limited him to just 11 appearances and only 23 at bats, and he decided to retire after the season.

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.