The fall from grace for former star first baseman and D-backs broadcaster Mark Grace has taken him to the lowest level of professional baseball.
And he says he couldn’t be happier.
Grace’s second DUI conviction cost him his job as color analyst in the Diamondbacks TV booth and four months of his freedom — replaced by a stay in Maricopa County’s Tent City jail facility.
“Tent City is … I’m not going to sit here … it sucks, it sucks,” Grace tells Todd Walsh in a candid interview for FOX Sports Arizona’s The 10th Inning magazine show, recounting how he “froze his fanny off” during the freak rare snowstorm that hit Phoenix in Feburary.
But Grace’s longstanding ties to the D-backs’ organization weren’t completely severed. President and CEO Derrick Hall offered Grace the opportunity to start over as a minor-league hitting instructor.
And that’s where FOX Sports Arizona’s cameras caught up with him, working with players as young as 17 in the Arizona Summer League.
“They are kids.” Grace said. “They think they’ve got all the answers, and they’re just dumb as can be. And they remind a lot of me when I was their age.
“That’s what makes this so refreshing and so much fun.”
Hall said he didn’t offer the position simply as a favor, but because it was a good fit for both Grace and the organization.
Grace seems to think so too, and his gratitude is apparent in the enthusiasm he shows for the job.
“When you get in trouble you find out who your friends are,” he said, “and I found out I didn’t have many. I had a lot of acquaintances.
“But the Arizona Diamondbacks proved to be a true friend by sticking with me, believing in me and offering this hitting coach job. I abosolutely love it.
“Whether I move up this ladder or not, that’s not the point of this thing. The point is I’m back doing something I love to do. It may be just a blessing in disguise that this happened and afforded me this opportunity.”