Across 16 years, he broke the mold of the typical first baseman.
This was especially true in an age where power numbers began to become inflated due to pervasive steroid use in the sport.
Grace was instead a contact hitter from the left side of the plate.
He was a constant above .300 average threat each year, along with always seeming to hit doubles.
Grace was also an adept fielder at first base, winning some Gold Gloves at the position throughout his career.
Mark Grace (#mlb 1988-2003)
4x Gold Glove winner
3x All-Star pic.twitter.com/xR8d1ASNIc
— CirclinTheBases (@CirclinTheBases) January 1, 2021
After retiring, he remained around the sport in different capacities.
We take a look into Grace’s career and what happened to the former Major Leaguer.
A Wrigley Staple
Grace was drafted by the Cubs in the 24th round of the 1985 MLB draft.
Though he was a lower draft pick, he still was able to work his way up through the system after some impressive minor league seasons.
He was called up to the Cubs in 1988, where he put together a solid rookie campaign.
In 134 games, Grace had seven home runs, 57 RBI and a .296 batting average as he finished second in Rookie of the Year voting.
This began his mainstay as one of the most consistent first basemen in the MLB.
In 1989 and 1990, he hit .314 and .309 as he was able to up his power numbers a bit.
He also stole at least 14 bases each year, something that isn’t very common from a first baseman.
However, Grace finally took the next step forward during the 1993 season as he was voted to his first All-Star team.
Over 155 games, he hit .325 with 14 home runs and 98 RBI.
In 1995, he had the best year of his career.
Grace put together a .326 average with 16 home runs and 92 RBI, earning his second All-Star appearance.
— Cubs Native (@cubsnative) May 13, 2020
The next season, he was able to up his average to .331.
This was in the middle of his career peak, as he hit at least .309 each year from 1995-1999.
His final year in Chicago was in 2000, as the aging Grace began to take a step back statistically.
While he still hit 11 home runs, his average dropped down to .280, his lowest since 1991.
Grace Joins Diamondbacks
Following the 2000 season, Grace signed a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
After 13 seasons for the @Cubs, Grace spent his final three years in the desert. His Cubs tenure included three ASG selections, four Gold Gloves, a .308 average and 1,754 hits in the 90s (most in MLB.)
Wrong Jersey Wednesday (Cub greats in wrong jerseys) pic.twitter.com/1tbLn3sUuH
— All of Theo’s moves (Daily Random Cub) (@DailyRandomCub) May 20, 2020
He joined a Diamondbacks team that was stacked with a strong rotation, helping carry them to the 2001 playoffs.
During the playoffs, Grace helped lead the team’s offensive charge.
In their NLCS matchup against the Atlanta Braves, he hit .375.
For the World Series, Grace hit .263 with a game-tying home run in Game 4.
Ultimately, Grace and the Diamondbacks were able to defeat the New York Yankees in seven games and take home the World Series trophy.
Grace lasted just two more seasons in the MLB as his production rapidly dropped off.
He retired after playing in just 66 games in the 2003 season.
In his 16-year career, Grace had 2,445 hits, 173 home runs and a .303 average.
Grace Remains Around Baseball
Following his retirement, he expressed a desire to return to the sport as a coach.
After he was a finalist for the Diamondbacks managerial position in 2004, he wasn’t hired.
In 2011 and 2012, Grace had problems with alcohol and was arrested twice for driving under the influence in a matter of 15 months.
Grace took responsibility for his actions and vowed to turn his life around while helping others as well.
The Diamondbacks suspended and fired Grace after his arrest.
“I did this,” he said. “The Diamondbacks didn’t do anything. I think it’s important to own this. I own this.”
While the Diamondbacks fired Grace from the booth, they vowed to support him and didn’t rule him out still having a role in the organization.
“Mark has always been an important part of our family so we would naturally be here to support him…We look forward to his future involvement in the organization.”
In 2013, the Diamondbacks gave Grace his first coaching job in professional baseball as he served as the hitting coach for a Diamondbacks minor league team.
In 2015 he was promoted to the team’s major league club as their hitting coach.
He remained there through the 2016 season.
In 2017, Grace returned to the broadcast booth as a color commentator the Diamondbacks and Fox Sports.
“After a six- or seven-year hiatus, I’ll have to learn life with a microphone in your hand again,” Grace said. “It’s pregame and postgame, a few home games here and there; I don’t know exactly how many games yet. But it’ll be good. It keeps you around. It keeps you seen, keeps you heard. It keeps you around the Arizona Diamondbacks. This is the organization I really love.”
Mark Grace's go-to snack? Tootsie Rolls. pic.twitter.com/icZBRgEQaw
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) February 23, 2020
In February 2020, he was hired as a select analyst for Chicago Cubs broadcasts, continuing being the lead color commentator with Fox Sports Arizona.
Grace made headlines once again in 2020 while on air when he called his ex-wife a ‘dingbat’ on a live telecast.
Over his life, Grace has been a steady part of the baseball world both on and off the field.
He had a great career, where he was one of the most consistent bats at the first base position.
Grace also carries a legacy in both Chicago and Arizona, as he established himself as a core part of each team.