The Chicago White Sox announced that they will retire the jersey #56 in a special ceremony this June. The jersey number is being retired in honor of longtime pitcher Mark Buehrle.
Buehrle was the ChiSox’s 38th round pick in the 1998 MLB Amateur Draft out of Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Missouri.
He shot through the club’s minor league system, making his big league debut on July 16, 2000, with an inning of relief against the Milwaukee Brewers at Comiskey Park.
Just three days later, Buehrle drew his first starting assignment at the Metrodome against the host Minnesota Twins.
In what would become a typically efficient Buehrle outing, he earned the win that night. The lefty lasted seven innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits while striking out five and walking just one batter.
It was the beginning of a fantastic career. Buehrle would pitch out of the White Sox rotation for the next 11 seasons. He made the AL All-Star team four times during the period, and won a pair of Gold Glove Awards.
BUEHRLE HELPS END WORLD SERIES DROUGHT
Buehrle’s best season came in 2005 when he led the American League in innings pitched for a second consecutive season. He produced a career-best 3.12 ERA with a 1.183 WHIP, and finished fifth in the AL Cy Young Award voting.
That fall, Buehrle played a vital role as the ChiSox drove to the franchise’s first World Series championship in 88 years. He pitched well in winning Game 2 of the ALDS, ALCS and Fall Classic.
Up 2-0 in the series, the ChiSox had scored twice in the top of the 14th to take a 7-5 lead over the host Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros had two men on and two out when Williams brought him in to face Adam Everett. Buehrle got Everett to pop out to shortstop on a 1-1 pitch, nailing down the victory that gave Chicago a series stranglehold. They would win the crown a day later.
Buehrle would accumulate a 161-119 record during his 12 seasons with the White Sox. He had a 3.83 ERA and 1.282 WHIP, and allowed just 2.0 BB/9 in those years.
That control was Buehrle’s calling card. During an era in which throwing hard was becoming increasingly valued, Buehrle was the stereotypical crafty left-hander.
BUEHRLE MAKES HISTORY – TWICE
Despite pitching mostly to contact during his career, Buehrle was able to produce a pair of dominating, historic gems.
The first of these came when he pitched a no-hitter on April 18, 2007. That night at U.S. Cellular Field against the visiting Texas Rangers, there was just one blemish on Buehrle’s ledger. It came when he walked Sammy Sosa on a 3-1 pitch with one out in the top of the fifth inning. Buehrle then promptly picked Sosa off first base, and completed the no-hitter.
On Thursday, July 23, 2009, and again at U.S. Cellular Field in front of the home fans in Chicago, there would be no blemishes. That day, Buehrle would toss just the 18th perfect game in the history of Major League Baseball.
Buehrle retired all 27 batters who stepped to the plate for the Tampa Bay Rays that afternoon, inducing Jason Bartlett to ground out to shortstop for the final out. It was the first “perfecto” by a ChiSox hurler in 87 years.
“Everybody in every sport is enamored with velocity, and he was the opposite of that,” Cooper said. “He did it first by location, second movement, three changing speeds. …
“Nothing bothered him. He was the same every day, on and off the field. Steady performer, steady guy. He maybe shook off eight times in 10 years. What that tells you is I have confidence, belief and conviction behind the pitch.”
BUEHRLE MOVES ON, ENDS HIS CAREER
Despite making at least 30 starts and topping the 200-inning mark in every one of his 11 full seasons with Chicago, the club let him walk away as a 33-year-old free agent after the 2011 season.
Buehrle signed a one-year deal in December 2011 with a Miami Marlins team that appeared to be trying to put together a winner. It didn’t work out, and a year later the Fish decided to break things up. Buehrle was dealt away to the Toronto Blue Jays as part of a 12-player deal.
Finishing up his career with three more solid seasons north of the border, Buehrle also added on another Gold Glove in Miami, and another AL All-Star appearance while in Toronto.
For 16 years, Buehrle was one of the most consistent, reliable pitchers in baseball. And in a dozen years with the White Sox he was one of the best. Now he will become the 12th player in team history to have his uniform number retired to immortality.