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Brilliant Graphic Picks Best Chicago Players for Each Uni Number

We’ve all seen articles where someone picks the best player ever to wear each uni number for a given team, or league, or sport, or city, or whatever. They’re fun argument-starters and good history lessons.

But the CHGO Sports outlet has done something even better, at least from a Uni Watch perspective: Today they tweeted a really awesome graphic showing the best Chicago-based player for every uni number from 1 through 99. It’s like one of those articles that we’re used to seeing, but in a uni-based visual format. I love it!

I realize you could quibble with some of the choices they made, like Minnie Minoso over Bobby Hull for No. 9, but I’ll let other people worry about that — I just love the visual approach. Of somewhat greater concern, they don’t seem to have used the proper fonts for the Bulls or White Sox, so there’s definitely room for improvement here.

Chicago is a good city for this type of thing, because they have teams in all of the Big Four pro leagues — including two MLB teams! It might be a harder thing to do for, say, St. Louis. Still, it would be interesting to try something similar for other cities. (And of course you could make the choices more inclusive by including MLS, WNBA, or even college teams.) (Update: Reader/commenter Tom Nawrocki points out that Candace Parker of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky is indeed included at No. 3. Thanks for catching what I missed, Tom!)

The design choices are also interesting. I assume, for example, that the Cubs players were shown in the Cubbies’ blue alternate template because the team’s home pinstripes might look too similar to the White Sox’s pinstripes (or just result in a graphic with too much white). Of course, they could have put the Sox in black, but that might look too similar to the Bears’ dark navy. And so on.

Anyway, kudos to CHGO Sports for coming up with this. I hope someone out there is already planning similar graphics for other sports towns.

(Big thanks to Steve Sher for bringing this one to my attention.)

Comments (71)

    As much as it pains Bears fans to say this, Cutler is, by any statistical measure, the greatest quarterback in franchise history. (Which tells you everything you need to know about Bears’ QBs.)

    Sid Luckman is the greatest QB in Bears history and I don’t think it’s close. Yes, it’s a problem that the best ever Bears QB wore #42.

    I would put Kevin Butler over Culter. Butler was All-Pro twice and was the first kicker inducted into the College Hall of Fame. Culter was a league average QB when he was with the Bears…which is pretty great for them.

    I would hope there are NHL or other sports that have a better candidate for #6, but for the Bears I think that’s it.

    (And of course you could make the choices more inclusive by including MLS, WNBA, or even college teams.)

    Paul, Candace Parker at No. 3 is repping the Chicago WNBA team, the Sky.

    Great Call.
    1978–1984 Chicago Sting 199 (128)
    1982–1987 Chicago Sting (indoor) 174 (168)


    I don’t know, but #12 is pretty sad for the Bears. I think Erik Kramer is probably the best there, so I’m okay with Kirk Hinrich ahead of him.

    Tierna Davidson wears #12 for the Red Stars. I haven’t watched a ton of Red Stars games, but she’s likely better than either given that she’s a US Women’s National Team player and was a first overall draft pick coming out of college.

    One game of Michael Jordan shouldn’t count for #12.

    Considering the blocks project for my, I am definitely going to get started on a Los Angeles graphic…this is awesome…

    I can already see this project can be tough depending on what city you are in…in LA alone you have to choose between 32: Magic Johnson v. Sandy Koufax (Magic); 34: Shaq v. Fernando (Fernando); 22: Elgin Baylor v. Clayton Kershaw (Kershaw); 99: Gretzky v. Aaron Donald (Donald)…and that’s what just pops into my mind before even getting into this further…

    LA guy here: don’t forget Bill Walton at #32 for UCLA. And Aaron Donald over Gretzky?

    For LA, don’t forget Marcus Allen #32 and Bo Jackson #34. They wouldn’t make the cut but it’s close.

    Yep, Donald over Gretzky…Donald is a first ballot Hall of Famer and delivered a Super Bowl win…Gretzky is a legend but his time in LA brought one Stanley Cup appearance…he was great before he got to LA…I’m going on contributions in LA…

    Gretz is the greatest hockey player ever. You can’t give it to Donald because you like football better. 99 is retired leaguewide.

    I’ll keep with Donald based on what he’s done and continuing to do in LA…it’s no knock on Gretzky but he also didn’t deliver a Stanley Cup…that’s why I have Dustin Brown in my list. The cool thing is you can have Gretzky in your list and it’s all good.

    Always looking for an excuse to use my Adobe Illustrator subscription and since you guys here at Uni-Watch armed me with the knowledge, I’m ready to go. I figure my son needs to learn is numbers somehow…

    Came to say the same thing. That said, I love the project.
    I would have gone White Sox in black to make NOB less weird, arched the Bulls’ NOB, maybe Bears in white. Keep the Cubs in royal (they have a distinctive font), Blackhawks in barberpole?

    Also, the number font for the White Sox is not right. The 2 is way off.

    And I don’t really buy the proffered reasoning for using a blue jersey for the Cubs. The Cubs’ blue and red numbers (in a distinctive shape, one which the graphic approximates fairly well) presented on a white jersey with blue pinstripes, would be immediately distinguishable from the black and white of the Sox.

    Re: White Sox numbers – just saw that.
    Re: Cubs – for me it was less about being able to be distinct, it was more about the colors of the project overall. Rendering the Cubs, White Sox and Bears all in white makes it a lot blander, basically red and white (pinstripes). The Cubs in royal blue is a pop of color on the project. Bears in orange would be as well but it is not their main color. But I get your point.

    It would have been nice if the artist used the correct number fonts for the Bulls and White Sox

    Right, given the obvious amount of work and thought put into this, it’s very surprising that they messed up on those. It’s not like either team uses some kind of strange font that would be hard to replicate, either.

    Toni Kukoc at #7 instead of Chris Chelios seems like a miss. The Blackhawks have retired #9 for Bobby Hull. He should probably be there instead of Minnie Minoso, but I see Hull also wore #16 and #7 for several years. I wonder if that kept him off the list.

    I second the nomination for Karl-Heinz Granitza for #12.

    Yeah, odd that they left out 0 and 00. Not like it was a sample of only one to choose from. For 0 in just baseball you have Stroman (Cubs 2022) and three White Sox: Billy Hamilton (2021), Oscar Gamble (1985), Mark Ryal (1985). So, yeah, Orlando Woolridge.

    #99 should be George Mikan, Chicago American Gears. “Mr. Basketball”

    Perhaps I’ll cook one up for Atlanta. I’d be open to suggestions. At what point should college numbers be included? Georgia Tech and UGA have some legendary athletes, as well as the Braves, Hawks, Falcons, Flames, Thrashers, Chiefs, Dream, and United. I’m good with the list, but uneducated with the graphics.

    #23 is rather strong for most cities.

    Even in Chicago, I’d have Robin Ventura and possibly Cappie Pondexter ahead of Sandberg. If you only include time spent in Chicago, Pondexter wouldn’t make it. If you count total career with time outside Chicago, then Pondexter is a clear #2.

    Sandberg does have a little bit higher lifetime WAR, so maybe he should get the nod over Ventura…but I like Ventura more. I was ignoring Ventura’s stint as a coach.

    Minoso instead of Bobby Hull is incredibly hard to believe. Did someone have a major brain fart?

    Mike Hartenstine (Bears DE 1975-86) should be at #73, not Yermin Mercedes, and let’s be honest, Harold Baines should be at #3.

    My initial quibbles with an acknowledgement that I know little about NHL; a moderate amount about NWSL and WNBA; and I’m sure I’m missing players whose numbers I don’t remember:

    #6 Kevin Butler (2 All-Pro teams) or Casey Krueger (1 first Best XI & 1 second Best XI; US National Team) vs. Cutler who was a league average QB.

    #11 Elena Delle Donne, even though Luis Aparicio is in the Hall of Fame. Delle Donne has two MVPs, once with the Sky. She didn’t play that long in Chicago, but it was longer than Parker has.

    #22 Courtney Vandersloot over Matt Forte. Vandersloot’s has all-time WNBA records for most assists in a season (300), highest assists-per-game in a season (9.1), and highest career assists-per-game.

    The most brutal omission may be Sylvia Fowles #34, which is much worse than Ventura/Sandberg for #23.

    No, I would put Walter Payton over Fowles.

    I meant she was the most brutal as in being the best player who wouldn’t make the list. While I may have been pushing for more female representation, I was being reasonable about it accounting for the relative lack of competition.

    If Candace Parker spent most of her career in Chicago, she have a valid argument over Payton. I am not sure I would pick her, but she’s that good.

    No, I would put Walter Payton over Fowles.

    I meant she was the most brutal as in being the best player who wouldn’t make the list. While I may have been pushing for more female representation, I was being reasonable about it accounting for the relative lack of competition.

    If Candace Parker spent most of her career in Chicago, she have a valid argument over Payton. I am not sure I would pick her, but she’s that good.

    Fridge over Fisk ; )
    Dave Duerson would be my 22, but I’m ok with Forte.

    I cracked up when I saw Will Vanderbilt. Really, no other great 32’s. Amazing!

    A city like St. Louis, which has had numerous teams come an unfortunately go, might be very interesting to see because of the variety! Cardinals and Browns in baseball, Cardinals and Rams for football, Blues for hockey, and Hawks (maybe Spirits too?) for basketball.

    As a native St. Louisan, I kinda feel like taking this challenge now after Paul used it as the example. Alas I have no graphic design skills, but maybe I’ll just make my list this weekend and post it here anyway.

    As a reasonably dispassionate observer of Chicago sports (I grew up in Iowa surrounded by fans of Chicago sports team – mostly the Cubs – but had already formed my own pro sports loyalties before I got there), here are the choices that stand out to me as misses:

    -Kevin Butler should definitely be ahead of Jay Cutler at #6. Butler accomplished more on better teams, even if he wasn’t on the field nearly as much because of the nature of his position.
    -Tough call between Kukoc and Chelios at #7. Both won three pro titles, but Kukoc’s came in Chicago while Chelios won his with Montreal and Detroit. But Chelios was one of the preeminent defensemen of his era and was a star on his Blackhawks teams. Kukoc was rarely more than a role player and a third option with the Bulls, especially during their title runs. Chelios would be my choice.
    -I understand the case for Minoso at #9. His Hall of Fame induction was long overdue, and he’s never gotten as much credit as he deserved for being one of the pioneering Black players who helped break the color line after Jackie Robinson. So I appreciate his inclusion here on those grounds. But Bobby Hull is an inner-circle hockey legend who is widely acknowledged as the greatest LW of all time. This one shouldn’t have even been close. Seriously, how can this list not include the greatest Blackhawk ever?

    Two #12’s off of the top of my head that are better choices would be Schwarber and Pierzynski

    My dad’s favorite Cub of all-time was Bill Buckner, so he told me that he should be #22 ahead of Matt Forte.

    1)Bobby Hull’s omission might have something to do with his wife beating accusations. It’s the reason the BLackhawks dropped him as a team Ambassador

    2)Forte over Buckner for #22? I had forgotten what Forte’s number was but Buckner and his #22 is etched in my memory

    The allegations against Bobby Hull go back decades. They were known in the 70’s when he played here in Winnipeg. Did new information come up to cause the Blackhawks to cut ties with him?

    following the Kyle Beach debacle, the Blackhawks decided to try to clean up their image and dropping Hull as an ambassador was one of their moves. link

    Bill Buckner was my favorite player growing up, but he was a 1B who averaged 13 home runs per 162 games (.300 average, though). Matt Forte ranks #2 in rushing yards, #3 in touchdowns scored, and #7 in receiving yards for the Bears.

    Someone on Twitter mentioned Night Train Lane for #81. Hall of famer, but only played 6 of his 14 years with Cardinals.

    Charley Trippi wore #62 for 5 seasons and #2 for 4 seasons and has the 5th most rushing yards in Cardinals history. He is still alive at 100 years old.

    One of my favorite books used this same approach on the cover. Best by Number from the Sporting News. I have played with many graphics like this myself bec as use of that book.

    I imagine that a St. Louisan could still use players from their former pro teams to fill in their version (football Cardinals and Rams, basketball Hawks, baseball Browns)

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