Apr 30, 2020 6 min read

The next retired numbers in Chicago?

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Or, better yet, a dry basement.


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Chicago’s retired number to-do list

(Photo StadiumJourney.com)

I don’t know for certain what John McDonough was doing when he was fired.

But I like to think he was calendar planning the rash of retired number ceremonies the Hawks are going to have over the next 10-15 years. Given that McDonough loved a big event, I wouldn’t have put it past him to hang Patrick Kane’s 88 before a Tuesday night game against Ottawa next February. Anything to keep that sellout streak going.

All kidding aside, it got me to wondering which number should be the next one retired for the city’s Big Five teams. There are a couple of obvious ones (at least to me) and a few good debates.

Let’s take a look:

Blackhawks

Already retired: Glenn Hall (1), Pierre Pilote and Keith Magnuson (3), Bobby Hull (9), Denis Savard (18), Stan Mikita (21), Tony Esposito (35)

I think the Hawks should ultimately raise five numbers from the dynasty era: Kane’s 88, Jonathan Toews’ 19, Duncan Keith’s 2, Brent Seabrook’s 7 (which will double as a deserved honor for Chris Chelios ) and Marian Hossa’s 81. That might seem like a lot, but it’s in line with recent dynasties. The Avalanche retired six numbers (a total that includes Ray Bourque for some reason) and the Devils retired five.

But will one of those five be next? Steve Larmer’s 28 has picked up a lot of steam in recent years, even though everyone from Mark Bell to Martin Lapointe to Ben Smith has worn that number since he left for New York.

My pick: Larmer’s career numbers are deserving, but with six numbers already in the rafters and another handful on the way, I’m OK with staying conservative with the other eras. Hossa’s 81 should be the next to go up once his contract with Arizona expires in 2021.

Bulls

Already retired: Jerry Sloan (4), Bob Love (10), Michael Jordan (23), Scottie Pippen (33)

The toughest debate in town. Dennis Rodman’s 91 has come up a few times, though I feel like if  you do that, you better also be honoring Horace Grant’s 54. Derrick Rose’s 1 will always be an argument because of his MVP award and hometown status, but I ultimately don’t think he warrants it.

My pick: No one. Jordan and Pippen were the only two common playing ingredients in both three-peats and no one else had the longevity to deserve the honor. In my opinion, flanking 23 and 33 with 54 and 91 would just look odd. Their Top-50 greatness prevents me from taking action.

My solution: Install a more permanent tribute to the championship era that not only puts Rodman and Grant in bronze, but other key figures like John Paxson, Steve Kerr, Bill Cartwright and Toni Kukoc.

Bears

Already retired: Bronko Nagurski (3), George McAfee (5), George Halas (7), Willie Gallimore (28), Walter Payton (34), Gale Sayers (40), Brian Piccolo (41), Sid Luckman (42), Dick Butkus (51), Bill Hewitt (56), Bill George (61), Clyde Turner (66), Red Grange (77), Mike Ditka (89)

The Bears have retired 14 numbers, the highest total in the NFL and one so high George McCaskey said the team was stopping the practice after hanging Mike Ditka’s 89. That makes sense given that football needs a wide selection of digits, but it also means that Hall of Famers like Mike Singletary, Richard Dent and Brian Urlacher won’t receive the same honor that earlier players received.

My pick: I like implementing a version of the idea Jack Silverstein put forth on Windy City Gridiron in 2018. A lot of the Bears’ retired numbers are from the franchise’s early  days. Not only are those players long gone, but so are most of their fans. Reclaiming a few of those numbers and moving the men to a ring of honor that’s popular with other teams would give us the chance to celebrate a few deserving defenders who are still around to appreciate the honor. I’d start with Samurai Mike’s 50.

Cubs

Already retired: Ron Santo (10), Ernie Banks (14), Ryne Sandberg (23), Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux (31)

Sammy Sosa is objectively the most deserving, but who am I kidding? The Cubs don’t even want to acknowledge his existence, let alone retire his 21 that several other players have worn since he left in 2004. Luckily, there’s a much easier and controversial candidate out there right now …

My pick: Andre Dawson’s 8. The Cubs are the only team in the city whose retired numbers are solely made up of players in the Hall of Fame (though Santo had not yet been elected when his number flag was introduced at Wrigley Field). Hawk did write a lot of his resume elsewhere, but so did Maddux. This one is overdue.

White Sox

Already retired: Nellie Fox (2), Harold Baines (3), Luke Appling (4), Minnie Minoso (9), Luis Aparicio (11), Paul Konerko (14), Ted Lyons (16), Billy Pierce (19), Frank Thomas (35), Mark Buehrle (56), Carlton Fisk (72)

The Sox moved quickly to retire both Konerko and Buehrle’s numbers so there’s not a natural candidate from the roster of the 2005 team. MLB.com’s Scott Merkin listed a few interesting candidates earlier this month but Jose Abreu needs a big push into the playoffs with this young team and Chris Sale would probably just shred the thing.

My pick: Ozzie Guillen’s 13. Eventually this has to happen, right? He’s the only man in the last 103 years to manage a World Series champion on the White Sox and he was a great player, winning the 1985 AL ROY and in the starting lineup of the ‘93 AL West title squad.  This seems like a nice centerpiece for the 20th anniversary celebration in … wait … just five years from now?

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Leave your comment below!

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Kevin Kaduk
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin is the founder of Midway Minute.

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