On Wednesday, Pedro Grifol and the White Sox officially introduced outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the organization. Surprisingly, he selected to don the No. 23 during his tenure with the South Side.
An interesting, yet risky choice for a Chicago sports team with a rather purist, nostalgic fanbase across all five pro sports teams. Shall we address the elephant in the room?
"I was afraid this would be asked. It's not what you think," Benintendi said playfully on Wednesday. "I am a Michael Jordan fan. (And} I was growing up. The main numbers I usually would like to wear were all taken or retired. This presented itself and I thought 'Why not?'"
Throughout his career, Benintendi has worn No. 16 with the Boston Red Sox, which was retired by the White Sox for Ted Lyons, and No. 18 with the Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees last season.
Obviously, plenty of Chicago sports legends have worn the No. 23. Starting with Jordan, who won six NBA championships in Chicago while wearing the iconic number, and recently saw the NBA MVP trophy named after him.
The other retired No. 23 in Chicago is with the Cubs, in recognition of Ryne Sandberg. Sandberg played for the Cubs from 1982-97. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005 after receiving the MVP award in 1984, 10 All-Star nods and nine Gold Gloves.
Another Chicago sports icon – Devin Hester – wore No. 23 with the Chicago Bears. He is likely to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the near future. Hester was once the league's best kick and punt returner, remembered for his iconic touchdown in the opening kickoff for Super Bowl XLI.
As for the White Sox, Jermaine Dye and Robin Ventura headline the players who wore the auspicious No. 23. Dye admitted he wore the number because of Jordan. He helped the White Sox win the World Series in 2005 and won the MVP award for the series.
Certainly, there is a lot of history, value and symbolism to the number in Chicago sports history. Two of the five major professional sports teams in Chicago retired the No. 23.
Now, Benintendi carries the torch for the White Sox.
"My sister, her senior year, was No. 32 so I can say I flipped that around in support of her," Benintendi said. "It's a cool number. It's obviously an iconic number in this city. I am by no means trying to say anything about that. Hopefully, it does me well."
Download MyTeams Today!