For 16 seasons, Mark Grace brought enthusiasm, humor and amazing talent to the game of baseball. As a Chicago Cub, Mark led his team on the field and in the hearts of its fans from his rookie season in 1988 through the end of the 2000 season. His thirteen seasons playing for the Cubs established him as one of the game's "good guys" with a throwback style of getting his uniform dirty and having fun on and off the field. He led the major leagues in hits during the decade of the 1990s. With the Arizona Diamondbacks, Mark won a World Series ring in 2001 and played three season before retiring after the 2003 season.
MarkGrace.com is a website devoted to honoring Mark's many accomplishments and love for the game. This site is maintained by longtime fan Brad Wackerlin, known to many as "The Ultimate Mark Grace Collector" (see his collection here). If you have any suggestions or questions about this site or Mark Grace, feel free to send me an email.
Posted Septermber 19, 2014
MarkGrace.com takes a look at Grace's 16 months of sobriety.
Posted June 28, 2014
A very happy 50th birthday, Mark! Celebrate responsibly, and congrats on the milestone.
Posted June 20, 2014
As hitting instructor for the Hillsboro Hops, Grace's pupils are off to a hot start. His first week in the dugout saw the Hops get off to a fast 5-2 start. What was really unusual was that the team scored in the first inning of every game. Success like that will keep Mark in good graces with the front office!
Posted May 9, 2014
Grace is relishing his role as mentor and coach to a new generation of ballplayers. He even sees all he has been through as a transformative experience that has steered him back on track to his post-retirement goal of managing. "It's a blessing in disguise because now I get to do this. I get to do something I've always wanted to do, and that's coach. In broadcasting, you don't really care who wins or loses. You just don't want extra innings. In coaching, you are living and dying with these guys every day,” he told the Portland Tribune. He is currently serving as hitting coach of the Hillsboro Hops in Oregon. Grace even got to spend a few days back with the big club, traveling with the Diamondbacks in their season opening series versus the Dodgers in Sydney, Australia. He served as hitting coach while Henry Blanco, who is in line for the job should he not earn a spot on the Dbacks roster, was placed on the opening series roster. After the opening series, Grace traveled back to Oregon and was soon formally introduced to Hops fans.
Posted February 3, 2014
Did you ever see Mark Grace in his one Hollywood film role? You're not the only one. Grace had a cameo, non-speaking appearance in the 1990 James Belushi dud "Taking Care of Business." It is a pretty great role though, as far as 10 seconds of air time goes: Grace hits a homerun in the World Series against Bert Blyleven and the California Angels. I recently ran across the clip and wanted to share:
Posted December 20, 2013
Good news for the rallying Mark Grace. He's been named as the hitting coach of the minor league Hillsboro Hops, an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Northwest League (Class A Short Season). Grace will be working on the swings of just-out-of-high school prospects, a far cry from the majors. Hopefully, it's a first step back up the baseball ladder. Kind of cruelly ironic that he's working for the Hops though, being a major ingrediant in beer.
Posted February 12, 2013
I don't usually post my Grace baseball card pickups here on the main page of MarkGrace.com, but this card calls for an exception. I was fortunately able to acquire the most expensive non-multiplayer baseball card of Mark Grace ever made, the 2006 Fleer Greats of the Game game-used Bat Barrel / Autograph card. It's a beautiful one-of-one card featuring the full name plate of a Grace gamer, and a certified auto as well. It definitely has earned a place of prominence in my collection! For more information about my collection, click the Card Museum tab on the left sidebar.
Posted February 10, 2013
Grace began serving his four month jail sentence today, reporting to Arizona's tough Tent City with other DUI offenders. But the news has been positive for Mark lately. The Diamondbacks have brought him back into the organization's fold by hiring him as a roving minor league instructor. He will serve as a hitting and fielding instructor for the various levels of the D-backs farm system. This job helped allow him to receive work release provisions to his jail term. Grace will be allowed out of the facility from 5am-5pm daily, and will only have to spend his nights in the canvas tents and bunks of Tent City. It's a good deal for Gracie, but still a sobering wake up call.
Posted January 31, 2013
Do the crime, face the time: Mark pled guilty to felony endangerment and misdemeanor driving under the influence as part of a plea for reduced jail time. He was sentenced by the Maricopa County Superior Court to 4 months in jail, to be served starting February 10, followed by 2 years of probation. Here's hoping for his safety, and that he uses his time to reflect on his behavior and improve upon it. I also hope his sons Jackson and Preston make it through this difficult time away from their dad. Hopefully this is the end of a painful episode in Grace's life, and better days will soon be here.
Posted January 15, 2013
This makes me feel better. Seeing Gracie back on the field (Diamondbacks Fantasy Camp) and looking well. Taking full responsibility for his actions and admitting it was all his own fault. You can tell it's been a difficult time for him, but that he's owning up to his mistakes and working to correct them. I hope he continues on this path and a comeback is in his future. Grace will next be in court on March 19 in Scottsdale to begin his DUI trial. Kudos to the Diamondbacks organization for their class in inviting Grace to participate in the Fantasy Camp, an event he has enjoyed and through which he has made many friendships in his 8 years of participation. Interview courtesy Fox Sports.
Posted October 5, 2012
It's always darkest before the dawn. Consequences of his second DUI have started to catch up with Mark. Yesterday, the Arizona Diamondbacks – upon completion of their season – officially severed ties with Grace as a TV analyst.
Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall
said the club had told Grace after the first DUI that they could not keep him if it happened again. "We had told him before that if it happened again, we were not going to have him return to the booth. He knew that. We had a conversation about that after the second one. We feel terrible for Mark and what he's going through. He's obviously got a legal process, as well, on his hands. We hope everything works out for him and we're here for him, but again he knew that this was going to be a consequence. It just so happens that his contract is up after this year, as well."
The other shoe to drop is the Scottsdale Police Department seeking an upgraded charge of aggrevated DUI, a felony charge that would mean a minimum mandatory jail time of 120 days for Mark. Officer David Pubins said a submittal for an upgraded charge for the DUI arrest—Grace's second in Scottsdale in less than 15 months—was filed to the county attorney's office. The aggrevated DUI charge is a repurcussion of Grace driving on a suspended license from his previous DUI and without a court-ordered interlock ignition device on the vehicle he was driving at the time of his second arrest.
Posted August 24, 2012
A sad day for Grace fans, as Mark Grace was arrested yesterday for his second DUI (the first occurred June 14, 2011) and has announced an indefinite leave of absence from his broadcasting duties with the Arizona Diamondbacks. According to the Arizona Republic, Mark was pulled over by the Scottsdale Police around 9PM on Thursday, August 23 for an expired registration tag. Police then administered a field sobriety test and found probable cause to take a blood draw. Grace was also cited for driving his vehicle with a suspended license and without a court mandated interlock device from his previous arrest. He was booked without incident and later released.
The Diamondbacks announced this morning, the day after the arrest, that Mark would be taking an taking "a leave of absence to seek personal assistance." No further details were given.
Grace has had issues with alcohol for several years. During his tenure in Chicago, he was a noted patron of the bars around Wrigley, and built a reputation as a "party boy." His arrest last year should have been a wake up call to seek help for his drinking behavior. It saddens me that this second occurrence had to happen. It's time for Grace to ditch the party boy persona and find help for his drinking, before he hurts himself or others. Arizona has strict DUI laws, so this second trip in front of a judge should have a sobering effect. Let's hope he approaches sobriety with the single-mindedness that he once applied to his defense - taking extra infield practice every day to transform himself into a gold-glover. That dedication to the task at hand would serve him, his children Jackson and Preston, and his loved ones well. Get well Gracie, we wish you the best - but remember, three strikes and you're out.
Mugshot courtesy Scottsdale Police.
Posted August 13, 2012
Racing Gracie finally tasted victory, at least sort of. On Sunday, the Racing Legend Grace anchored the Legends in a relay against the Washington Nationals' Racing Presidents. Perennial losers Grace and Teddy Roosevelt anchored their squads, with Gracie beating Teddie to the finish line. Up in the booth, the real Mark Grace celebrated the victory by "Bolting," striking the pose recently made famous by Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt.
Posted July 14, 2012
Mark was back at Wrigley when the Diamondbacks took on the Cubs for a weekend series. He joined the WGN booth to sing the 7th inning stretch on Friday, July 13. A video of his guest conductor performance is available on MLB.com.
Posted May 7, 2012
A quick thinker, that Mark Grace! During the May 6th game against the Mets, Mark and broadcasting partner Daron Sutton lost audio during the second inning of their telecast. Gracie quickly used the telestrator to pen the message "We Don't Have Audio" complete with a sideways frowny face emoticon (guess he thought he was texting the viewers). Since there are many elderly Phoenix-area residents watching Dbacks games on TV, he probably prevented several hearing-aid disasters by alerting fans not to turn up the volume on their sets.
Posted September 11, 2011
Posted August 4, 2011
In a follow-up to the June 4th entry below, the results of Mark's blood test were disclosed in court documents, and his blood alcohol content was .128, over Arizona's legal limit of .080. No word yet on a trial date or sentencing.
Posted July 13, 2011
In what was a lackluster MLB All-Star game, Mark's interview with actor/musician Justin Timberlake may have proved the night's most interesting moment. Timberlake, who certainly seems to have enjoyed a few adult beverages beforehand, sarcastically mocks Joe Buck and professes his love of beer when not promoting his new movie "Friends with Benefits." The beer conversation, coming on the heels of Grace's DUI arrest (see post below), is particularly uncomfortable. See for yourself here.
I'm not sure what Mark is smiling about in his odd mugshot. Certainly being arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol is no laughing matter. Police in Tempe, Arizona pulled over Mark after seeing his Jaguar make a wide right turn and weaving in his lane. Grace admitted to officers that he had drunk a few scotches immediately before driving. Officers noted in their report that Grace was "impaired to the slightest degree," but still, endangering your life and those of your female passenger and other drivers and pedestrians is not acceptable. Hopefully Grace learns his lesson from this unfortunate accident and never again puts himself in this position - if not for his own self at least for his sons Jackson and Preston. We fans expect you to accept your punishment, issue an apology, and most importantly make better decisions in the future.
The Diamondbacks have announced plans for a "Racing Gracie" Bobblehead Night scheduled for April 28, 2011. The first 15,000 fans to that night's Diamondbacks vs. the Chicago Cubs matchup will receive a limited edition bobblehead featuring the likeness of the Mark Grace racing legend mascot. Could this be the night the Gracie mascot breaks through and finally wins a race? Get your tickets and stay tuned! And if anyone can help me procure one of these bobbleheads for my collection, please email me.
In case you weren't aware, there's a group of dedicated baseball enthusiasts that have been working for the past couple of years to create a Chicago Baseball Museum. Support is swelling thanks to their tireless efforts. A website has been launched at www.chicagobaseballmuseum.org, fundraising events continue to be scheduled, and other exciting events are happening on a monthly basis. Fans of the game would do well to consider donating to the effort in whatever way they can. Hopefully Gracie will be represented when the doors finally open!
Posted August 3, 2010
Ten foot tall Mark Grace continues to have his problems in the Diamondbacks Legends Race (see July 7 entry). In fact, the Grace mascot has yet to record a victory in the between-innings spectacle, going 0-19 as of this writing. It's become a running gag that Grace won't win. He's been foiled by Manny Ramirez, Steve Bartman, Kung-Fu Panda, and Star Wars Storm Troopers. It's starting to look like Grace may never get the best of Gonzo, the Big Unit or Matty.
But Gracie's supporters have faith! Just today I noticed this new blog: "Let Grace Win!" Created by a D-Back season ticket holder, LGW chronicles the epic struggles of the Grace mascot as he attempts to find his stride and taste victory.
If World Series rings are any indication, Grace will find a way to prevail in the end!
Posted July 26, 2010
Andre Dawson becomes the third teammate of Grace to be enshrined into the Hall of Fame (Ryne Sandberg and Goose Gossage are the others). Dawson didn't mention Grace in his HOF speech, but his love for Chicago was readily apparent. There's no ill-will between the players though. On numerous occasions, Mark voiced his support for Andre's election to the hall and spoke of his admiration of Dawson's work ethic and dedication to the game. Here's some recent remarks he made to the Arizona Republic:
Posted July 7, 2010
Not really sure why, but I'm getting a big kick out of 10-foot tall Mark Grace. Unsurprisingly, the Grace mascot finished dead last in the first-ever Legends Race — a fitting tribute to the player once described as "running with a piano on his back." If you're curious, the Randy Johnson mascot won the first race. Here's a link to video of the race in its entirety.
You may notice that Dodgers' outfielder Manny Ramirez throws a towel at the Grace mascot (at 35 second mark on video), which contributes to his loss. In the next day's race, Grace was leading the pack when he hesitated in the front of the Dodgers' dugout to look around for Ramirez. The other mascots cruised past him and he again finished last. On Monday, 10-foot tall Grace again stopped running at the visiting team's dugout after spotting his nemesis. To the delight of the crowd, he emptied two cans of silly string into Manny's dreadlocks. Then he held up a sign saying "Gracie Being Gracie!" Even though he's 0-3, I applaud the effort!
Posted July 1, 2010
A first look at 10-foot tall Mark Grace (see June 26th post below).
Posted June 28, 2010
Happy 46th Birthday Mark Grace!
Posted June 26, 2010
A 10-foot tall Mark Grace? Sweet!
From MLB.com: The Arizona Diamondbacks announced today that Mark Grace will be the fourth and final participant in the D-backs Legends Race, presented by Henkel, which will debut at the end of the fifth inning when the team hosts the Dodgers at Chase Field on July 2. The new between-inning promotion will continue following the fifth inning of every home game for the remaining home games this season and beyond.
Similar to the Presidents Race at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. and the Sausage Race at Miller Park in Milwaukee, the D-backs Legends Race will feature Grace, Matt Williams , Randy Johnson and Luis Gonzalez. The Legends will become mascots of the organization and run in a race that will start near the right field foul pole and continue on the warning track until the finish line at the on-deck circle near the D-backs dugout. The four D-backs legends will be 10-foot tall men in uniform with large foam heads that will resemble the players who have made a significant contribution to the organization on the field.
Posted March 26, 2010
It is with heartfelt sympathy that I report the passing of Mark's father, Gene Lee Grace, on Thursday, March 18, 2010. Gene passed away in Scottsdale, Arizona, where the Grace's maintained a summer home to be near Mark. He was buried on March 24 near the family home in Arkansas at the Bentonville Cemetery. My deepest condolences go out to Gene's beloved wife Sharon, their sons Mark and Mike, and the entire Grace clan.
Gene was born April 24, 1934 in Ware, Oklahoma and married Sharon on January 19, 1958. He served two years in the U.S. Army and worked for the Missouri Pacific/Union Pacific Railroad for 31 years. His career necessitated the family moving throughout the country during his sons' formative years, and yet he and Sharon held the family together with love and admiration for each other and their boys.
In the ten years I have maintained this website, I have on several occasions corresponded with men that were coached in little league by Gene, or other friends of the family that knew Gene personally. Each and every one of those individuals had the same opinion of the man, that he was a kind and caring coach, husband, father and human being. It is a legacy of which to be proud.
Posted March 8, 2010
WARNING: you will want to physically hurt this woman just for her effusive abuse of emoticons and over-the-top cutsyness. But if you need ideas for scrapbooking your chance encounter with Mark Grace, maybe she can serve as your inspiration:
Posted February 12, 2010
You can catch Mark at the D-Backs Fan Fest happening tomorrow, Feb. 13th at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. The event is free to attend (although expect to pay for parking).
Posted February 11, 2010
I attended the LaSalle Sports Stag on Jan. 20th in Cincinnati (see next post) and can report back that Grace was an entertaining guest speaker. He had the crowd of 350 or thereabouts in stitches as he related several of his best tales, including the "Maddux sure loves to pitch," "Sutcliffe and the fireworks," and "The time in 1992 I crapped my pants on the field" stories. I had heard all of these stories 3rd hand, but hearing Mark tell them in his own words was priceless. Before the event, I got to speak with him for several minutes, and he remembered me as the website guy. He was very receptive to everyone and signed autographs for all who asked. Event MC Chris Welsh, the voice of the Cincinnati Reds, was also an engaging speaker with many funny jokes. It was a great night and I'm indebted to the hospitality of LaSalle High School for inviting me to be their guest at the event. Here's a few photos from the proceedings:
Posted November 16, 2009
Just announced - a very special evening with Mark Grace!
A steak dinner, cocktails and Mark Grace telling baseball stories in a relaxed atmosphere. What could be better? If you are anywhere near the Cincinnati area, you won't want to miss this opportunity. La Salle High School will be hosting a "Sports Stag" fundraiser with Grace as the Guest Speaker. The event is planned for Wednesday, January 20, 2010. Tickets are now on sale, but a sellout is expected, so act fast! "Sports Stags" are a Cincinnati tradition, with high schools bringing in famous athletes and coaches to raise funds for the schools and their athletic programs.
La Salle Sport Stags are nationally recognized as one of the best Baseball Stags in the country. Past guest speakers have included Goose Gossage, Joe Morgan, Brooks Robinson, Tom Seaver, Johnny Bench, Joe Torre, Lou Pinella, and many other baseball heroes. This is a very unique opportunity to hear Mark Grace talk candidly about his career. I'm going to make the drive from Chicago for this - hope to see you there!
Posted June 17, 2009
Well, the day has finally come. The New York Times is reporting that Sammy Sosa was a named steroid user in MLB's 2003 testing program. According to the article, Sosa was one of 104 players who tested positive. His name is now added alongside Bonds, McGwire, Clemens, Tejada and Canseco in the book of baseball cheaters.
I doubt this comes as a surprise to anyone who has followed his career. After the 1996 injury that ended his season, he came back in 1997 looking bigger and stronger than ever. His enhanced physique demolished records in 1998, and it seemed that all of Cubbie Nation embraced him. But believe me when I say there were many that whispered about steroids even then. Between those rumors, and his self-indulging ways in the clubhouse and at the microphone, Sosa was not universally loved by either fans or teammates. But Sosa was a favorite of Cubs General Manager Larry Himes, going back to their days on the southside of Chicago when Himes traded Harold Baines to get Sosa for the White Sox. Himes kept Sosa on the team despite other players' growing resentment. Sosa's egotistical displays rubbed Ryne Sandberg and Mark Grace the wrong way, and contributed to Grace's departure from the team.
Looking back on the last half of the 1990's, it's easy to see that Grace and Sosa were the faces of the franchise. Yet Grace always took a backseat to the brash Sosa. With a decade to reflect, I can't help but feel their places should have been reversed. When Grace came up in the late eighties, he wasn't a very good defender. What did he do to get better? He put in extra time with his coaches, working everyday to take groundballs and throws from the infield. He turned himself into a four-time gold glover through persistent hard work. Sosa took the easier route, taking needles instead of extra practice.
I feel a little justified today in placing myself in Grace's camp back then. He always seemed more genuine to me than Sosa. He worked hard, played hard, and told the truth even when the truth wasn't what management would have liked him to say. With Sosa, I watched his spectacular performances with a doubtful eye. The first chink in his armour came with the corked bat. Then his testimony before Congress, which required a translator when he never used one before, added to my doubt. He carefully chose his words, saying he never used an illegal drug in the US or the Dominican Republic (steroids were not illegal in the Dominican Republic), leaving open to interpretation his off-season workouts in his homeland. Now, the NY Times report of steroid use is the final nail in the coffin. Sosa has been fully exposed as a sham of a player. I doubt Grace even blinked at the news.
Today, Sosa's awards and accomplishments took on even more tarnish. I can't help but think Grace's shine a little more brightly.
Posted March 31, 2009
Some fun-loving Mets fans over at the website www.thewrightstache.com are running a campaign to get Mets cover boy David Wright to grow a mustache. Their website is pretty hilarious. Their motto is "Because Naked Lips Don't Win Championships." A lot of the inspiration behind their thinking can be credited to Keith Hernandez, whose mustache, they reason, was the true reason the 86 Mets won the world championship.
Of course, Hernandez was Mark Grace's boyhood baseball idol and the reason he wore #17 as his jersey number. This connection, and the website, got me thinking: "What would Grace have looked like with just a stache?" So through the magic of Photoshop, I give you the answer —
Posted March 18, 2009
Grace fans in the Chicagoland area will want to make plans for a road trip to Rockford on May 30th. That's the night the Rockford RiverHawks, an independent team in the Frontier League, will be holding a Mark Grace bobblehead night.
The RiverHawks unveiled three bobblehead doll designs available on the Big Ticket five-game plan. Former Chicago Cubs Mark Grace, Andre Dawson and Sammy Sosa are the featured players on the three scheduled bobblehead doll nights. The Big Ticket costs $40 for outfield box seats, $50 for infield and $60 for home plate. It guarantees fans the same great seat for all five nights. The Grace bobblehead is scheduled for May 30, Dawson for July 18 and Sosa for Aug. 29. The plan also includes Opening Night (May 26) and Fan Appreciation Night (Sept. 3). For more information, check out the team's website at www.rockfordriverhawks.com or contact Marshall Mackinder, Assistant General Manager of Marketing & Promotions, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted January 12, 2009
Nope. That's the response of Hall of Famer voters to Mark's Cooperstown admittance. While it doesn't come as a surprise, it's still a sad day for this fan. I was hoping he'd at least get the 5% or more of the vote that would allow him to be considered again next year. But of the 10 newcomers to the HOF ballot, 1 was elected (Rickey Henderson) and the other 9 were rejected completely, with none of these first time eligibles earning above 5% of the vote. The final voting results were:
Rickey Henderson 511 (94.8 percent); Jim Rice 412 (76.4 percent); Andre Dawson 361 (67.0 percent); Bert Blyleven 338 (62.7 percent); Lee Smith 240 (44.5 percent); Jack Morris 237 (44.0 percent); Tommy John 171 (31.7 percent); Tim Raines 122 (22.6 percent); Mark McGwire 118 (21.9 percent); Alan Trammell 94 (17.4 percent); Dave Parker 81 (15.0 percent); Don Mattingly 64 (11.9 percent); Dale Murphy 62 (11.5 percent); Harold Baines 32 (5.9 percent); Mark Grace 22 (4.1 percent); David Cone 21 (3.9 percent); Matt Williams 7 (1.3 percent); Mo Vaughn 6 (1.1 percent); Jay Bell 2 (0.4 percent); Jesse Orosco 1 (0.2 percent); Ron Gant 0; Dan Plesac 0; Greg Vaughn 0.
It's a small (very small) moral victory that Grace was the "Best of the Rest" of the newcomers with 22 votes. Grace will not be eligible again until 2024 under the current veteran's committee rules.
Sorry Gracie, you'll just have to settle for being a Hall of Famer in our hearts.
In a perfect world:
Posted January 5, 2009
Well, if there was any doubt about Mark's chances of making the Hall of Fame, I believe the Chicago Tribune has answered it. In revealing how the paper's 9 eligible writers filled out their ballots, we learn that only one writ
Posted January 5, 2009
Well, if there was any doubt about Mark's chances of making the Hall of Fame, I believe the Chicago Tribune has answered it. In revealing how the paper's 9 eligible writers filled out their ballots, we learn that only one writer - Phil Rogers - voted for Grace. And Mr. Rogers admits that "when it comes to my Hall of Fame ballot, I believe in giving the benefit of the doubt. I don't want to be a curmudgeon with a ridiculously high standard," and also that Grace ranked as his 9th of nine picks.
If Mark can only get 11% support from the writers of the hometown paper that covered his team, it's a sure bet that he's not going to get the 75% support needed of all writers. Sorry folks, Grace is not going to be a HOFer for his playing days. He was an above-average player for several years, and will be revered on the north side of Chicago and in the desert of Phoenix by fans for years to come. Just don't expect a plaque in Cooperstown any time soon.
Posted December 15, 2008
Golf with Grace and help the kiddies! The Boys and Girls Clubs of greater Scottsdale are currently gearing up for the 2009 Mark Grace Celebrity Invitational. The event will be held at the Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona on Friday, February 6. Foursome sponsorships range from $5,000 to $10,000 while an individual playing spot can be had for $1,500, but it's for a good cause. The Invitational raises funds to benefit youth development programs for children ages six to eighteen. Plus you get a breakfast and cocktail reception, and the chance to rub elbows with celebrities and jocks. Past invitees include Cal Ripken, Jr., Bob Uecker and many of Arizona's professional athletes.
Posted December 12, 2008
With the 2009 Hall of Fame Ballot announced, and Grace being one of the 23 players voters must consider, it's time to revisit my analysis of Mark's chances for enshrinement. I've updated the page to be current, but not much has changed in my estimation since I originally wrote my analysis in 2004. The steroids controversies of the past few years are the most significant factor since then. I believe Grace's clean record (he has never been suggested as having been a user) during an era when many of his contemporaries (see Mark McGwire) were reportedly doping gives Grace's numbers more credence. While I seriously doubt Mark will get the necessary votes, I feel Grace is moving up the list of "naturally" talented first basemen and should now be considered one of the most dominant first basemen of his era.
Results of the 2009 HOF voting will be announced January 12. I'll cross my fingers, but I won't hold my breath!
Posted November 17, 2008
Mark will be one of
the featured autograph guests at the Sun Times Sports Collectibles
Convention happening November 21-23 at the Rosemont Convention Center
in Chicago. Mark will be signing autographs from 11:00am-12:30pm on Saturday,
Nov. 22. Tickets can be purchased in advance here, the cost is $59
per auto for balls and flats, $79 each for jerseys and premium items.
Yes, it's expensive, but hey, you get to meet Mark in person and you
know it's a legitimate auto.
Posted May 13, 2008
I wanted to give a nod of recognition to artist John Hanley and encourage all Cubs fans to purchase a copy of his excellent new book "Classic Cubs: A Tribute to the Men and Magic of Wrigley Field." John is practically my neighbor (he lives one town north of me in Crystal Lake, Illinois). His paintings capture the soul and essence of Wrigley Field and the generations of players that worn the Cubs uniform. "Classic Cubs" features over 200 of his paintings and drawings documenting Cubs history, everything from the team's different ballparks to its Hall-of-Fame players. There is an outstanding portrait of Mark Grace making an underhand toss (presumably to a pitcher covering first base) on page 81. Any Cub fan will be enthralled by this collection of artwork. It's available at Borders Bookstores or online at Amazon.com.
Posted May 6, 2008
Many of you will remember Mark Grace's infamous 2003 interview with Jim Rome on ESPN's "Rome is Burning" program in which he defined the term "slumpbuster" for a national audience (see the Quotes page for a full transcript). Well, with the term firmly entrenched in pop culture, a new sports energy drink is looking to cash in on its wink-wink connotations.
The company behind Slumpbuster Energy, MBSB Holdings, sees the product as the perfect energy drink for fans of baseball and softball. And though reaction to their branding strategy drew mixed reaction from Internet message boards and media for its purported "sexist" overtones, the company is winning over fans. Slumpbuster has been named the official energy drink of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim affiliate, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. Kevin Youkilis has become a corporate spokesperson and has worked with the company to develop Youk’s Signature SlumpBuster with portions of profits going to charity.
According to a company spokesperson, Mark Grace was approached through his agent to become involved with the brand, but was rebuked. There is a funny moment in the Dan Patrick interview with Kevin Youkilis (linked below) in which Patrick states that he got an email from Grace saying he was mad at Youk for using the term, but that was probably said in jest.
And in case you've just got to get your hands on some, here's a link where you can purchase it.
Posted May 2, 2008
Today marks the 20th anniversary of Mark Grace's first game in the majors. Grace, called up from Triple A Iowa to replace a struggling Leon Durham, joined the team in San Diego on May 5, 1988 for a night game against the Padres. He collected two hits in his first game, and the Cubs won 5-3. It was the first of 2,245 games Grace would play during his career. He would continue to dominate against San Diego throughout his career, and called it his favorite park to play in besides Wrigley.
Posted April 12, 2008
No surprise here. When the Diamondbacks announced their 10th Anniversary Team, the fans voted Grace their representative at first base. More than 15,000 fans voted in the poll conducted on MLB.com. The other team members were: Damian Miller (catcher), Craig Counsell (second base), Tony Womack (shortstop), Matt Williams (third base), Luis Gonzalez, Steve Finley and Eric Byrnes (outfield), Randy Johnson (left-handed starter), Brandon Webb (right-handed starter), Jose Valverde (closer), and Bob Brenly (manager).
Posted March 13, 2008
There is a new feature on the website: game logs for every MLB game in which Grace played. If you need to know how Grace faired at the plate on any particular day, go to the MLB Statistics page and then click on a year for a full game-by-game log of Grace's prowess at the plate.
Posted February 17, 2008
Mark's charity foundation waived its annual golf outing this year and instead held a celebrity bowling tournament dubbed the "Super Bowl Classic" to raise money and awareness for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Brandon Webb, Eric Byrnes, Robin Yount, Bruce Bochy, Aaron Rowand and Russ Ortiz were among the baseball players to attend the event held at the Brunswick Lanes in Scottsdale, Arizona. Teams of four donated $1400 a lane to bowl with the stars. A dinner and autograph "spectator" ticket was available for $50.
Posted December 17, 2007
Turn on your TV December 29th for the 37th annual Fiesta Bowl Parade and you can catch a glimpse Mark, who was named this year's Grand Marshal. The parade begins at 11am local time in central Phoenix. Grace will not only lead the parade, but will also be a guest of honor at the January 2 bowl game, presiding over the coin toss.
Posted October 6, 2007
With the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago Cubs meeting in the NLDS, many fans wondered where Gracie's allegiance would lie. Grace made it clear that he would be rooting for the Diamondbacks. "My parents taught me never to bite the hand that feeds you," he stated in an interview. As TV analyst for the D-Backs, Grace is excited at the opportunity to broadcast playoff baseball, and possibly to return to the World Series with the Diamondback, albeit this time in the broadcast booth. "The Diamondbacks have fed me very well over the last few years. I work for the Diamondbacks and obviously you want the team to move on. If the Diamondbacks move on, I move on. I get to broadcast an NLCS and maybe a World Series. So you want the Diamondbacks to win."
Posted July 3, 2007
The Diamondbacks website has a picture up of the Mark Grace Bobblehead that will be given away at the team's August 25th home game. Looks like my guess as to its design was pretty accurate (see March 5 post below)!
Posted June 28, 2007
Happy Birthday, Mark! The ever-youthful Grace turns 43 today.
Posted March 20, 2007
Mark was a special guest host on Fox Sports' "Best Damn Sports Show Period" on Monday night, the first of several appearances he will make on the show during this baseball season as part of his new contract with Fox. Part of my Mark Grace collection made an appearance too, as I was contacted by one of the show's producers and asked to share some photos from this site. They showed two pictures I provided, one of Grace in little league and one of his high school yearbook photo. Show host Chris Rose used them to lightheartedly poke fun of Grace. Said Grace upon seeing his yearbook photo "Yeah - I didn't do too well with the girls in high school."
Posted March 5, 2007
Tickets are on sale for Arizona Diamondbacks home games, and Grace fans will want to take note of the August 25th promotional giveaway. Fans attending this game will receive a free Mark Grace bobblehead doll! This will be the Diamondbacks first Grace bobblehead giveaway since 2003. Maybe he will be dressed in a suit and holding a microphone in this year's version.
Posted February 18, 2007
While folks in the desert will be seeing a lot more of Mark Grace, a national audience will soon get to hear his broadcasting skills as well. Mark agreed to a three year contract extension to his Diamondbacks broadcasting contract. This will keep him in the booth for D-backs games through the 2009 season, with a team option for 2010. Grace also signed on with Fox Sports to provide color commentary on the Fox Saturday Baseball Game of the week. He will join game analyst Tim McCarver in the booth for those games. Between the two agreements, Grace will be appearing in 125 D-Backs games and a minimum of 20 games on the Fox Network.
Posted January 21, 2007
The talk of this year's Cubs Convention has been the return of Mark Grace to the proceedings. Mark was a guest at the convention for the first time since leaving Chicago in 2000. He was one of seven 1989 teammates to take part in a "Boys of Zimmer" panel highlighting the memorable 89 team. Grace was cheered with a standing ovation from the standing-room only crowd of Cubs fans that attended the panel. His stories of Don Zimmer and Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams brought the room to laughter. Later in the day, Grace signed autos and posed for pictures with the lucky fans that waited in huge lines for the chance to meet him.
Posted September 18, 2006
Showing his charitable side and community pride, Mark has donated $50,000 for the second time as part of the "Diamond Backs" Field Building Program. The charity helps rebuild and revitalize community ball parks into diamond gems, complete with grandstands and scoreboards. His latest contribution helped build Mark Grace Thunderbolt Field, which was dedicated at Luke Air Force Base and will serve Air Force families that live both on and off the base. Governor Janet Napolitano was a guest of honor at the dedication.
Posted August 5, 2006
Is Mark Grace back in good graces with the Chicago Cubs? The relationship between the two parties has been shaky since Grace's comments after the 2001 World Series, in which he took a shot at the organization by saying "I wasn't good enough to play first base for the Chicago Cubs, but I was good enough to play for the World Champions." On Thursday, August 3 with the Diamondbacks in town, Grace was the guest conductor for the 7th inning stretch in the second game of a doubleheader. Fan reaction was very positive, especially when he sang "For it's root, root, root for the CUBBIES" despite his present employer.
Before showing off his vocal skills, Grace had a sat down with Cubs' Senior Vice President of Marketing John McDonough. Talk has it that McDonough also invited Grace to be a guest at the next Cubs Convention, which would be Grace's first appearance there since leaving the team.
Chicago Sports Talk Radio was abuzz with speculation about this thawing in the Cold War between Grace and the Cubs. Theories abounded that Grace may be in line for a manager position should Dusty Baker leave town. More likely, Chicago may offer Grace a TV analyst position and move Bob Brenely back into the dugout if Baker's term as manager comes to an end after the season's close.
Posted May 24, 2006
Who knew President Bush was a Mark Grace fan too? Grace was invited to the White House for Bush's annual Baseball Dinner on Monday, May 23. Also in attendance were George Will, John Kruk, and Jon Miller. Grace described the event as "just a bunch of guys sitting around talking baseball. He also shared that the President greeted him with a good line. Bush reportedly told Mark "after your background check came over, I had to pull a lot of strings to get you in.
Posted August 10, 2005
Mark Grace caused quite a stir last night when a "technical glitch" caused his microphone to remain on although he was unaware of it during the Diamondbacks telecast. It proved to be a monumental embarrassment to Grace when his candid remarks about one Diamondback player's swing was broadcast live, complete with a forbidden expletive. Grace used the work "f***ing" at least twice. More damaging was his harsh assessment of Diamondback catcher Chris Snyder. His comment about Snyder's stroke, "Every f***ing swing that guy takes is an underwater swing," won't win him any friends in the clubhouse.
"I learned a lesson. I promise you it will never happen again," Grace apologized later. "I was having a private conversation with the truck, like we do everyday, and evidently some words that aren't air-able came out and through a technical difficulty, I may have offended some people," he said. "If that's the case, I apologize and I will face any consequences." It remains to be seen if any action will be taken by management.
Posted August 5, 2005
After the events of July 27 (see entry below) Phoenix Mayor Gordon has proclaimed today "Mark Grace is a Weiner Day!" Here's the full text of the hilarious official proclamation:
Posted July 27, 2005
Proving once again that
he is one of the funniest personalities in baseball, Mark was a "Celebrity
Sausage" tonight in Milwaukee. The Brewer's famous between-innings
sausage race gave Grace the opportunity to remind people why his running
style was once described as "having a piano on his back."
Mark donned the green Bratwurst costume and, to the delight of the
fans of Miller Park, ran in the sausage spectacle. ESPN awarded it
the #10 play of the night on their "Sports Center" nightly
Posted February 1, 2005
Sammy Sosa's fall from favor in Chicago is now complete with his trade to Baltimore. It's been no secret that Mark and Sammy had their differences. Grace's bitterness with Sosa stems from Sosa's antics in the Cub's clubhouse during their tenure together, and from Sosa's comments about Grace being a "clubhouse cancer" after Grace was traded to Arizona. Not many fans and sportswriters believed him then, and now his actions have exposed him as a fraud - at least in the minds of most Cubs fans.
Posted January 15, 2005
Want to see how Mark and his wife Tanya live? Find yourself a copy of the December issue of "Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine." Their Paradise Valley home is featured in an eight-page spread. Looks like Tanya is the decorating decision-maker in this family. "It's a nice place to lay your head at night," says Mark about his digs.
Posted November 18, 2004
The speculation is over. Mark has signed a two-year contract extension to remain the Diamondbacks' color announcer on TV broadcasts. After the Wally Backman debacle, it became apparent that management was not interested in offering Grace the manager job. Looks like he will have to gain some experience in the minor leagues before being considered. But for now, fans can look forward to Mark bringing back his humorous and insightful broadcasts to Arizona telecasts.
Posted November 1, 2004
With the naming of Wally Backman as the new Diamondbacks manager, Mark Grace's future is still up in the air. The Diamondbacks have stated that they were happy with his performance in the TV booth and welcome him back for the 2005 should he wish to return. Some have speculated that Grace may be interested in the broadcasting duties vacated by Steve Stone and Chip Caray in Chicago, but that scenario is highly unlikely, given Grace's uneasy relationship with Cubs President Andy McPhail. Most likely, Grace will first consider taking a coaching position with the Diamondbacks should Wally Backman offer him one. If not, look for him to take a minor league managing position, possible the Single A Lancaster manager position Backman leaves behind, or return to the D-Backs broadcasting booth.
Posted October 7, 2004
The Arizona Republic has reported that Mark Grace will be interviewed tomorrow by Diamondbacks' executives for the position as Team Manager. Mark is on the short list of possible candidates to take over the reigns of the Diamondbacks beginning with the 2005 season. 2004 interim manager Al Pedrique was interviewed today, and it is likely 3 to 8 other managerial prospects will be interviewed.
Posted July 24, 2004
Mark Grace is elected to the Hall of Fame! The National Baseball Congress Hall of Fame that is. Grace heads the list of the 2004 NBC HOF inductees, which also included longtime NBC player-manager Carl Kentling, Alaska general manager Don Dennis and longtime fan "Baseball" Bill Gwinup make up the class. According to his NBC biography, Mark played with Liberal (KS) in 1984 and North Pole (AK) Nicks in 1985; both teams made the Championship Finals but lost. The NBC World Series brings together independent and semipro teams from across the United States and the world to compete in its historic tournament held annually in Wichita, Kansas.
Posted June 28, 2004
Mark celebrates his
40th birthday today. According to one reporter, wife Tanya is throwing
a party for family and friends.
Posted October 8, 2003
Mark's first week of retirement has been an eventful one. On Tuesday, Tanya Grace delivered their second child, Preston Torre Grace. Preston is the couple's second boy, his older brother Jackson Gene is nearing his third birthday. Then on Wednesday, Mark announced his future plans with the Diamondbacks, accepting an invitation to the broadcasting booth. He had also been offered a managerial position with the Missoula Osprey, the team's Class A short season minor league team. We can now look forward to Mark bringing his humor and enthusiasm for the game to Diamondback telecasts in the 2004 season. Congratulations Mark on both the new addition to the family and the new job!
Posted September 28, 2003
Mark's last weekend as a player in the major leagues produced numerous standing ovations and memorable moments. On Saturday, Grace was honored by his home team by being put in the starting lineup one last time. He received a long standing ovation from the Arizona fans his first trip to the plate, several smaller ones throughout the game, and a final, thunderous ovation when he was lifted from the game in the 6th inning for a pinch runner. He went 2 for 3 at the plate, including the 511th double of his career, raising his batting average to .200 on the season.
On Sunday, Grace was given one last chance to take the field and tip his cap to his adoring fans. He was used as a defensive replacement in the 6th inning, and stayed in the game until making a fine defensive play at first base for the first out in the 7th. Manager Bob Brenley saw that as an opportune time to take Grace out of the game. Diamondback fans responded by sending him off with a standing ovation that did not end until Grace came back out of the dugout to tip his hat and acknowledge his final curtain call. Mark was the last one of the field after the game, and seemed at peace with his decision to hang up the spikes.
What's next for Grace? His future lies with the Diamondbacks, and several opportunities seem open to him. We will most likely see Mark Grace head to the broadcast booth or a coaching position next year. It's a small consolation on this retirement weekend to know that Grace, in one capacity or another, will be back in baseball very soon.
Some pictures from his final weekend:
Posted September 27, 2003
With class and humor, Mark Grace announced his retirement at 3:00pm press conference yesterday. He began by announcing that he had signed a two-year extension with the Diamondbacks, one last joke from the always affable star. Grace thanked his teammates and fans, both in Arizona and Chicago, for 16 glorious seasons. At times, he seemed on the verge of choking up. But as the consummate professional, Mark kept it together and showed everyone watching how a professional bows out with dignity. Saturday will be Grace's last game as a starter according to manager Bob Brenly. He may also see action Sunday as a pinch hitter.
Mark, you'll probably never see this, but I want to personally thank you for the memories and smiles. You'll be missed on the field, but I can't wait to see you on the bench as a coach or in the booth as a broadcaster. Good luck in whatever comes next!
To read more quotes from the press conference, see the following MLB.com article: Grace Says This Is Final Season
not affiliated with Mark Grace, his management or Major League Baseball.