This is Day 12 of a Cubsmas Advent Calendar. You can read the explanation for the project and Day One here.
One of my favorite days at Wrigley Field this season was the day the Cubs honored their 2023 inductees to the Cubs Hall of Fame: Shawon Dunston and Mark Grace. It was a picture perfect day at Wrigley Field and one of the few games the Cubs won against the Diamondbacks while trying to lock down a playoff spot for the first time since 2020. You can watch the video ceremony in its entirety here:
If you grew up in the late 1980s and early 1990s I could just leave that statement all by itself with the video of the ceremony and call this post good. However, for those of you who missed the wonderful days of Dunston to Sandberg to Grace, I’ll expound.
Shawon Dunston played for the Chicago Cubs from 1985 to 1995. He played almost all of those games at shortstop. While Dunston had a handful of above average offensive seasons during his 17-year big league career he’s most remembered for his defense, and especially his arm. While it may have lacked accuracy at times (see Grace’s Sandberg to Dunston to Addison St. joke in the video above), it was a cannon. Honestly, I wish we could go back in time and get Statcast data on Dunston’s arm. Below you can watch the Cubs Hall of Famer rob Eddie Murray at Wrigley Field:
Dunston was selected by the Cubs in the 1982 Draft, the overall No. 1 draft pick that year. He was a two-time All Star for the Cubs and ended his career with a .269 batting average on the legendary Shawon-O-Meter in addition to 150 career home runs and 212 stolen bases.
Mark Grace won four Gold Gloves for the Chicago Cubs at first base, and let’s be honest, he saved a lot of potentially errant throws from his shortstop. But what the three time All-Star is most remembered for is a hit tool that honestly, we should take a minute to appreciate, because there just are not that many hitters like Mark Grace in the big leagues these days.
Mark Grace led the 1990s in hits and doubles. He put up a .303/.383/.442 slashline for his career. Perhaps even more impressive he never posted a season with more strikeouts than walks in his 16-year career in MLB. He also never struck out more than 10 percent of the time in his career. His career strikeout rate is a minuscule 6.9 percent compared to an 11.6 percent career walk rate. The only qualified hitter in MLB to post a lower strikeout rate over a single season last year than Grace put up across his career was batting title winner Luis Arraez, who struck out 5.5 percent of the time in 2023. And to be clear, Arraez has already struck out more than 10 percent of the time in the 2021 season (his career mark across five seasons so far is 7.5 percent).
One of my favorite pieces of Cubs trivia is that the last Cub to hit for the cycle was Mark Grace on May 9, 1993. Yes, it’s been 30 years since a Cubs player hit for the cycle. Al had a great write-up of this game and Cubs’ cycles throughout history last May. You know you want to watch those highlights again:
Mark Grace and Shawon Dunston made it to the playoffs just one time together, in 1989 when the Cubs lost the National League Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants. Dunston would return to the playoffs with the Mets, Cardinals and Giants later in his career. He made his only appearance in the World Series in the final year of his career, 2002 when the Giants lost to the Angels. Mark Grace made one additional postseason appearance with the Cubs when they lost in the Division Series in 1998. He won a World Series ring with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001, starting the comeback rally that led the D-Backs to victory over the New York Yankees in Game Seven with a quintessential Mark Grace single up the middle off future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera to begin the bottom of the ninth. That capped off a three-hit game for the future Cubs Hall of Famer. The universe wouldn’t have it any other way.