8 Things You Might not Know (or Remember) About Cubs Great Mark Grace
Kris Bryant has already established quite legacy by winning the 2015 Rookie of the Year Award and leading his team to a World Series championship (people forget that) in his 2016 NL MVP campaign, but he wasn’t the first Cubs great to wear the number 17. Mark Grace spent 13 seasons (1988-2000) at first base for the Cubs and was the best player to don that jersey number prior to Bryant.
However, compared to the achievements of former teammates like Greg Maddux, Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg and Sammy Sosa, his contributions are underrated. In honor of the career of the Cubs great, I thought it would be worthwhile to discuss some notable facts about Grace that you either might not be aware of or might have forgotten over the years.
- Finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting to Chris Sabo in 1988
- Led MLB in hits (1,754) and doubles (364) in the 1990’s
- Grace is the only player other than Pete Rose to lead a decade in hits who has not been elected to the Hall of Fame
- Second player in Cubs history to be the Opening Day starter at the same position for an entire decade
- David Ross’s first major-league home run was off of Grace, who appeared in relief for the Diamondbacks during a blowout game against the Dodgers in 2002. It’s definitely worth your time to read more about how Grace screamed at Ross as he rounded the bases.
- Made a cameo appearance in the 1990 Jim Belushi film Taking Care of Business
- Slashed .647/.682/1.118 with 1 HR and 8 RBI in the Cubs’ 1989 NLCS loss to the Giants
- Won a World Series ring with the Diamondbacks in 2001
Grace retired in 2003 at the age of 39 after 13 years with the Cubs and three with the Diamondbacks. His career slash line was .303/.383/.442 with an OPS of .825 (for an OPS+ of 119), 173 HR, 1146 RBI, and 46.4 WAR. He was a three-time All-Star selection (1993, 1995, 1997), and he won four Gold Glove awards (1992, 1993, 1995, 1996).
Grace dropped off Hall of Fame balloting after failing to receive support from over 5 percent of the voters in his first year of eligibility (2009) and cannot be reconsidered for enshrinement in Cooperstown until the 2022 meeting of the Today’s Game Committee. While he finished a career .300 hitter and led the 1990’s in hits and doubles, as mentioned above, Grace did not have the type of home run, RBI, or slugging numbers favored by baseball writers when considering first basemen.
However, his career slugging percentage (.442) is not too far below that of 2019 inductee Harold Baines (.465), a designated hitter, and his career home run total ranks ahead of eight Hall of Fame first basemen who played for major-league teams. Despite his dubious case for Cooperstown, Grace is one of the top Cubs position players of all time, ranking in the top 10 on the franchise leaderboard in OBP (T-10), runs scored (9th), hits (5th), total bases (7th), singles (6th), doubles (2nd), RBI (8th), and bases on balls (4th).