Tuesday, March 30, 2010


What do each of the following players have in common?

Leroy Herrmann (1932)
Lynn Nelson (1933-34)
Roy Joiner (1935)
Clyde Shoun (1935-36)
Phil Cavarretta (1937-38)
Vern Olsen (1939-42)
Roy Hughes (1944-45)
Vern Olsen (1946)
Doyle Lade (1947-50)
Andy Varga (1951)
Dave Cole (1954)
Bubba Church (1954-55)
Jerry Kindall (1956-58)
Jim Brosnan (1958)
John Buzhardt (1958)
Moe Thacker (1958)
Art Schult (1960)
Nelson Matthews (1961-63)
Bobby Gene Smith (1962)
Don Young (1965)
Carl Warwick (1966)
Ron Campbell (1966)
Jimmie Hall (1969-70)
Manny Jimenez (1969)
Adrian Garrett (1970)
Ramon Webster (1971)
Carmen Fanzone (1971-74)
Pete LaCock (1975-76)
Mike Gordon (1977-78)
Jim Tracy (1980-81)
Ryne Sandberg (1982-94,1996-97)

Well, with only two exceptions (Sandberg and Cavarretta), they were all, at best, were very mediocre.

But that's not what I was looking for. After all, if you are putting together a list of mediocre Cubs, its going to be a lot longer than this one!

This list is all of the Cubs players that.....

wore uniform number 23.

The Cubs first put numbers on the backs of their uniforms in 1932. As far as I can tell, the font they use today is the same one first used in 1932. It is a unique, rounded font not seen on any other MLB team (though the Bears use a nearly identical font). That has always made it very easy for me to identify a Cubs player from the back. You see that font, you know its a Cub.

As you look through the list, you'll notice that most of the players who wore #23 didn't have it very long. Phil Cavarretta was with the Cubs for two decades, but #44 is what he wore the longest, not #23. Vern Olsen and Carmen Fanzone had it for 4-5 seasons, but otherwise, most of these guys weren't with the Cubs too long.

If clubhouse manager Yosh Kawano gave you #23, you should be worried about what the Cubs thought of your future. I wonder what Yosh thought about Ryne Sandberg when he was issued #23. After all, Ryno was just a throw-in in the Larry Bowa trade. Did Yosh think he would be another in the long line of just-passing-through players to wear that number?

Over the next several days, I'll be featuring the cards of any of the Cubs I've got that wore #23. By my count, there are fifteen of them with cards in my collection. The ones that are missing are from before the Topps era, or were with the team for such a short time they didn't get a card.

I'll kick things off tomorrow with the most recent #23 Ryne Sandberg, and then work my way backwards through the list.

I'd like to acknowledge the source of the list of players and the #23 jersey picture: It came from site Cubsbythenumbers Kasey does a great job of keeping the list current. He's also got a gallery of Cubs scorecards that is worth a look.

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