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Former D-back Grace talks adversity at Arizona Sports HOF induction

From left; Former Arizona Diamondbacks players Brandon Webb, Mark Grace, Luis Gonzalez and Erubile Durazo prepare to throw out ceremonial pitches prior to a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies Thursday, March 29, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Mark Grace has been out of the batter’s box for a while now, but he never ventured too far.

The former Arizona Diamondback and current Fox Sports analyst for the team was one of six inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame Thursday.

“It was humbling to get that call,” Grace said. “Then when I found out the names that I was inducted with, that made it even more so.”

Pat Tillman, Gary Hall Jr., Sister Lynn Winsor, Mike Candrea and Jeff Oscarson were the other inductees in this year’s class.

Grace played in the MLB for 16 seasons: 13 in Chicago and three in Arizona. At first base, Grace was a premier fielder throughout his career, winning four Gold Gloves.

He was also a force at the plate and had the most hits of any player in the 1990s. Grace finished his career with a lifetime batting average of .304 with 173 home runs.

Even with these impressive statistics, Grace admitted the recognition came as a surprise.

“It’s something that you don’t think about when you’re putting on the uniform,” Grace said. “I’m very thankful for the fans that decided, ‘You know that this skinny guy at first base, he isn’t too bad.’”

After 13 seasons in Chicago, Grace ended his career in the Valley with the D-backs. In 2001, Grace was an All-Star for the D-backs and a key piece on a team that won its first World Series. That season, he batted .298 with 15 home runs.

Following his retirement in 2003, Grace kept in touch with the organization and become one of the team’s broadcasters for Fox Sports in 2004.

However, his broadcasting career suffered a pair of significant setbacks almost 10 years after entering the booth. Grace was arrested twice for DUI over a 15-month period and was subsequently fired from the network in August 2012.

That was a big speed bump, but we got through it,” Grace said. “Life’s going to throw you some curveballs. You man up, you deal with it, and then you take on the next challenge.

That is exactly what he did.

Grace returned to the booth in 2017 as an analyst for Fox Sports Arizona. Grace said getting the job with the network was a blessing.

“I love working with Todd Walsh and Jody Jackson and the FS Arizona people are amazing,” he said. “I think all the people involved there put on a good show.”

Through everything, Grace said he’s appreciative for the Diamondbacks’ continued support.

“I’m a very loyal guy, and obviously the Diamondbacks have been very loyal to me,” Grace said. “As long as they want me around, I’m gonna stay around.”

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