CHICAGO — This is a day usually thought of for Star Wars fans, but those who love sports can have a little fun, too.
“May The 4th” arrived on Thursday and has been celebrated by the supporters of the long-running franchise of films that started in the 1970s and continues to this day.
But it’s the number “4” we focused on here at WGN News Now as we thought we’d take a look at a number of memorable professional athletes in the city that have worn the number through the years.
Here are a few we’ve spotlighted on May 4.
Bulls – Jerry Sloan
A member of the Bulls is in the running for the greatest player to wear No. 4 in Chicago pro sports history.
Jerry Sloan, often known as “The Original Bull,” was selected by the team in the 1966 expansion draft and played with the Bulls for the next ten seasons. Sloan was a two-time NBA All-Star and made the NBA’s All-Defensive team four times as he helped the Bulls to seven playoff appearances, including the 1974 & 1975 Western Conference Finals.
Sloan’s No. 4 was retired by the Bulls in 1978, the first player in the history of the franchise to receive the honor.
The native of McLeansboro, Illinois would later be an assistant coach and head coach of the Bulls before going onto success in the latter role with the Jazz from 1988-2011.
White Sox – Luke Appling
Others could argue that a member of the White Sox is the greatest to wear No. 4 in Chicago pro sports history.
Shortstop Luke Appling played in 20 seasons on the south side from 1930-1950, only missing the 1944 season due to service in the United States Army. He was a seven-time All-Star and won the American League batting title in 1936 and 1943, taking the field for the club in 2,422 games.
Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1964, Appling had his No. 4 retired by the White Sox in 1975.
Cubs – Billy Herman
According to BaseballReference.com, 35 players have worn No. 4 for the Cubs through the years, with the most famous being an athlete who wore two numbers during his memorable run with the franchise.
Billy Herman, a sure-handed second baseman, wore No. 4 from 1937-1941 after wearing No. 2 from 1932-1936. While wearing four, he made five of his eight-straight All-Star Game appearances and helped the Cubs to the 1938 National League pennant.
Herman was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975.
Billy Williams, who has his No. 26 retired by the Cubs, wore the number four in his rookie year of 1959. Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, who played most of his career with the Pirates, wore No. 4 in his two seasons with the club in 1953 and 1954. Randy Hundley, who many fans remember wearing No. 9 with the Cubs, wore it for his final MLB season in 1977.
Nelson Velazquez is the most recent player to wear No. 4 for the club, doing so for parts of the last two seasons.
Blackhawks – Niklas Hjalmarsson, Moose Vasko, Bobby Orr, and Keith Brown
Of all the teams in town, the Blackhawks have perhaps the most amount of impactful players who’ve worn the No. 4.
Defenseman Moose Vasko, who wore the number for six of his ten Blackhawks seasons, was a two-time All-Star and helped the team to a Stanley Cup title in 1961. NHL Hall of Famer Bobby Orr wore his traditional No. 4 that he made famous in Boston during his final NHL years in Chicago from 1976 through 1979.
Keith Brown, who was with the Blackhawks for 14 seasons from 1979 through 1993, also sported the single digit during his time with the team.
Many recently think of a steady presence on the blue line when it comes to the No. 4 and the Blackhawks: Niklas Hjalmarsson.
He played with the team for ten seasons, helping them to three Stanley Cup titles opposite of future Hall of Famer Duncan Keith on defense. He took the ice for 623 games during his tenure with the Blackhawks before playing his final four seasons with the Coyotes.
One of the best players on the current rebuilding Blackhawks’ team, defenseman Seth Jones, is wearing No. 4. He was the Blackhawks’ All-Star in the 2022-2023 season.
Bears – Steve Fuller & Jim Harbaugh
For the “Monsters of the Midway,” the most memorable No. 4 on their rosters concerns a pair of quarterbacks, including one who played a part in the team’s only Super Bowl title.
Steve Fuller was the backup to Jim McMahon from 1984 through 1986 as the starter dealt with a multitude of injuries during that time. Because of that, the backup had some memorable moments with the team, leading them to a divisional playoff win over Washington in 1984, the team’s first postseason triumph in 21 years. He’d start the NFC Championship the next week in San Francisco, which was a forgettable 23-0 loss to the 49ers.
In 1985, Fuller started five games, going 4-1, then appearing for at least a few plays in all three playoff victories as the Bears won Super Bowl XX. He played in 16 games in 1986 with two starts then was on injured reserve for the 1987 season with a shoulder injury.
During that year, rookie Jim Harbaugh wore No. 14 for the Bears, then took No. 4 in 1988 and wore it for the next six seasons. The quarterback played in 89 games for the Bears with all 65 of his starts coming while wearing his primary number with the team. Harbaugh was 35-30 in the games he started under center and was the main starter for the Bears’ playoff runs in 1990 and 1991.
Brad Maynard, who punted for the Bears from 2001 through 2010 and was on four division championship teams, wore No. 4 as well. Currently, safety Eddie Jackson is sporting the digit for his second year after wearing No. 39 from 2017 through 2020.
Sky – Candice Dupree
When it comes to the Sky, one of the first great players for the team sported the No. 4.
That’s forward Candice Dupree, who was the team’s first-ever draft pick in 2006 and arguably their best player in the early years of the franchise.
She was an All-Star in three of her four seasons in Chicago – 2006, 2007, and 2009 – averaging 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds in 135 games as a member of the Sky.
Dupree would spend 16 years in the WNBA, playing for the Mercury, Fever, Storm, and Dream, making four more All-Star teams while winning at title in Phoenix in 2014. In that series, she helped the Mercury to a sweep of the Sky in the WNBA Finals.
Chicago Fire FC – Carlos Bocanegra and Johan Kappelhof
Two defenders stand out among those who’ve worn No. 4 for Chicago Fire FC since their inception in 1998.
Carlos Bocanegra had a memorable tenure early in his professional tenure with the club from 2000 through 2003 after his college career ended at UCLA. He won MLS Rookie of the Year in 2000 along with being the league’s Defender of the Year in 2002 and 2003.
During his tenure, the Fire won two Lamar Hunt US Open Cups (2000, 2003), made two MLS Cup finals (2000, 2003), and won the MLS Supporter Shield in 2003.
Johan Kappelhof was a defender for the Fire for six seasons and was named an MLS All-Star for the 2017 game that was played at Soldier Field.
Defender Carlos Teran currently wears the number for the Fire.
Red Stars – Alyssa Mautz
One of the longest-tenured players in the history of the National Women’s Soccer League, forward Alyssa Mautz wore No. 4 during her ten years with the Chicago Red Stars.
She took part in 143 matches with the club and is only one of six players in the league to play in all ten years of its existence with the same team. Mautz has 16 goals in her career and helped the club to NWSL Championship Match appearances in 2019 and 2021.
The forward retired towards the end of the 2022 season to take an assistant coaching position at Texas A&M, her alma mater.
Midfielder Carri Roccaro is wearing No. 4 for the club in 2023.