Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Today's date is an interesting one, if you like numbers. It'll happen again next year with December, 13, 2014 but then the next time won't be during most of our lifetimes.

The photos above are courtesy of cubsbythenumbers.com. Great site!

The Cubs have famously retired numbers 10 (Ron Santo) and 14 (Ernie Banks), but because of today's date, I thought I'd take a look at some of the players who have worn the numbers in between, 11, 12 & 13. Who wore it first? Who wore it most recently? And who wore it best (in my lifetime and/or overall)?

Starting with #11, Billy Sturges was the first to wear it when the Cubs started wearing numbers on their jerseys in 1932. The most recent to wear #11 was Kyuji Fujikawa, this past season. During my lifetime/fandom I would have to say Ivan de Jesus wore it best for 5 years as a player (1977-1981) and then for four more years as coach (2008-2011). In the history of #11 with the Cubs, Don Kessinger is the clear cut winner. He wore it from 1964-1975, winning two Gold Gloves and was selected to six All-Star games during that time.

Couldn't find a Kessinger showing #11 in my collection so here's Ivan

The first player to wear #12 was Charlie Root back in 1932. The most recent bearer was this past season's Chang-Yong Lim, although Alfonso Soriano wore it earlier this year and for the previous six as well. As for who wore it best, it is probably a tossup between Soriano and Shawon Dunston,who wore it from 1985-1995 and in 1997. Both had two All-Star seasons with the Cubs, but the Boys of Zimmer fan in me, will give the win to Dunston. Root is a pretty big name Cub (notable among other things for giving up Babe Ruth's alleged called shot) but he only spent part of the 1932 wearing #12. He also wore #15 and has switched again to another number for 1933.

Almost the full #12

The #13 is an interesting one. Although #11 and #12 were both worn when the Cubs first starting wearing numbers in 1932, and worn by 39 and 45 different players respectively, the #13 wasn't used until 1939 and has only been worn by 10 different players. Superstitious, anyone? The only number under 57 worn less was Ernie Banks' retired #14.

The first to wear it was Claude Passeau. The latest to wear it is Starlin Castro, who has worn it since his debut in 2010. While Castro should be the clear favorite for my lifetime, I'm inclined to give it to notoriously superstitious pitcher, Turk Wendell. Known for jumping over the white lines emphatically, and chewing black licorice and brushing his teeth between innings, I can't say that he necessarily earned it on the field though. Maybe if Castro can return to his All-Star form, he can have it. Overall though, I'll have to give it to Passeau, as a four time All-Star and three time top-twenty MVP candidate. But since I don't have any cards of Passeau, here's Wendell in the #13.

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