(This is part of a series on retired numbers, with somewhat of a focus on Retired Number Bandits — players who wore a number that was later retired at any point after the person for whom it was retired first wore it. See the introduction for more information and explanation on Bandits.)
The Chicago White Sox have ten official and two unofficial retired numbers:[table “” not found /]
Nellie Fox, 2
Fox spent most of his Hall of Fame career on the south side of Chicago, manning second base for the White Sox from 1950-63. He was an outstanding defensive infielder, and he won the 1959 American League Most Valuable Player Award in leading the Sox to the AL pennant.
Fox was traded to the Houston Colt .45’s after the 1963 season, and while he wasn’t elected to the Hall of Fame until 1997, Chicago retired his number 2 in 1976. In the interim, it was worn by Smoky Burgess, Dick Kenworthy, Rich Morales, Mike Andrews, Jerry Hairston, and Chet Lemon.
Baines played the first ten years of his career with the White Sox, making four All-Star teams and getting MVP votes in four seasons. The White Sox traded him to the Rangers on July 29, 1989, and three weeks later they retired his number in his first trip to Chicago as a visiting player.
Baines re-signed with the White Sox after the 1995 season and was traded to the Orioles in 1997, again on July 29. After a stint with the Indians, Baines went back to the Orioles, who then traded him back to the White Sox in 2000 — again on July 29. So while his number has been worn multiple times since it was retired, it was always by him as a player or coach.
Luke Appling, 4
Appling spent his entire Hall of Fame career with the White Sox, compiling 2,749 hits and playing outstanding defense at shortstop.
Appling retired in 1950 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964, but his number 4 was not retired until 1975. In the interim, it was worn by Ron Jackson, Gene Freese, Ken Berry, Tim Cullen, and Ron Hansen. It was also worn by Grey Clarke and Kerby Farrell while Appling was in World War II.
Minoso last wore number 9 regularly in 1964, but he wore it in brief publicity comebacks in 1976 and 1980.
Minoso fell off the Hall of Fame ballot with 1.8 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility, 1969. But his three games in 1976 and two games in 1980 reset his eligibility, and he spent 1986-99 between 8.6 and 21.1 percent.
Minoso’s number 9 was retired in 1983 and he is the last player to wear it, but between when he first wore the number in 1951 and when it was retired, it was also worn by Al Smith, Johnny Callison, Ramon Conde, Charley Smith, Danny Cater, Wayne Causey, Woodie Held, Ossie Blanco, and Lee Richard.
Here is video of 50-year-old Minoso getting the final hit of his career in 1976:
Luis Aparicio, 11
Aparicio played with the White Sox from 1956-62 and from 1968-70. He was never much of a special hitter, but his offense was good enough in tandem with his stellar defense to play for 18 years and eventually be elected to the Hall of Fame.
Between Aparicio’s stints in Chicago, his number 11 was worn by Dave Nicholson, Jerry Adair, Jimmy Stewart, and Sandy Alomar. Between his final Sox game in 1970 and the retirement of his number in 1984 (when he was elected to the Hall of Fame), his number was worn by Chuck Brinkman, Jerry Moses, Jim Essian, Don Kessinger, Bruce Kimm, Greg Pryor, and Rudy Law.
When Omar Vizquel signed with the White Sox before the 2010 season, his normal number 13 was being worn by manager Ozzie Guillen, so Aparicio requested that Vizquel be given his number 11, which he wore for his two seasons in Chicago.
Paul Konerko, 14
After brief stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds, Konerko played the bulk of his career with the White Sox, hitting 432 home runs with 1,383 RBIs and 2,340 hits for Chicago, good for second, second, and third respectively on the White Sox all-time leaderboards.
Konerko retired after the 2014 season, and the White Sox retired his number early in 2015.
Ted Lyons, 16
Lyons spent his entire 21-year career with the White Sox and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1955. His number 16 was not retired until 1987, 41 years after his playing career ended and a year after his death.
Although Lyons was exempt from the military draft due to his age, he enlisted in the Marines after the 1942 season (at nearly 42 years old) and spent three years in the service. He made a brief comeback in 1946, but at 45 years old he had lost his effectiveness. Lyons then managed the White Sox for three seasons before taking off his White Sox uniform for good.
Lyons’ number 16 was issued to Bill Swift in 1943, and after Lyons’ retirement it was issued to Max Surkont, Gordon Goldsberry, Red Wilson, Bob Mahoney, Marv Grissom, Joe Dobson, Bob Cain, Sammy Esposito, Mike Fornieles, Bob Kennedy, Ted Beard, Al Smith, Brian McCall, Ken Berry, Ken Hottman, Brian Downing, Greg Pryor, Jim Essian, Marv Foley, Julio Cruz, and Ken Williams.
Billy Pierce, 19
The White Sox traded Pierce away after the 1961 season, and at the time of his retirement in 1964, his 1,999 strikeouts ranked fifth all time among left-handed pitchers.
The White Sox didn’t retire Pierce’s number 19 until 1987, at the same time they retired Lyons’ 16. Between 1961 and 1987, Pierce’s number was worn by Dom Zanni, Joe Shipley, Bruce Howard, Dennis Ribant, Buddy Bradford, Barry Moore, Ron Lolich, Steve Huntz, Jim Qualls, Rudy Hernandez, Hugh Yancy, Ken Tatum, Sam Ewing, Mike Squires, Mike Colbern, Greg Luzinski, and Floyd Bannister.
Frank Thomas, 35, and Carlton Fisk, 72
Thomas and Fisk both played the majority of their Hall of Fame careers with the White Sox, although Fisk has a Red Sox hat on his plaque. Thomas’s number 35 was never reissued after his departure in 2005, and Fisk’s number 72 has never been worn by another White Sox player, before or after Fisk.
Unofficial: Charlie Lau, 6
Unofficial: Mark Buehrle, 56
Number 56 has not been issued since pitcher Mark Buehrle signed with the Marlins after the 2011 season.
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