It's pretty well established that I'm one of the olds--I've been a Cubs fan for, uh, we'll just say a really long time. I'm "saw them play the Giants at Candlestick Park in the late 1980's during Greg Maddux's rookie season" years old. It was a simpler, and yes, more frustrating time as a baseball fan when only four teams made the postseason--two division winners in each league. That's... it.
In 1989, the spunky, Don Zimmer-helmed Cubs managed to win the National League East (that looks weird, eh?) led by Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, Rick Sutcliffe and a second year first baseman named Mark Grace--you might have heard of him. Grace was coming off a fantastic rookie season when he slashed .296/.371/.403 and finished second in ROY voting to... Oh! Chris Sabo! That's right!
Sabo: Making Glasses Cool Since 1988!
Before all the DUIs and slumpbusting legends of his later years would take the shine off his golden boy reputation, Grace would post a .314/.405/.457 slashline in his sophomore bid with a 142 wRC+, hinting at the consistent contact machine he would be throughout his career. (Did you know he had a 6.9% career strikeout rate? That's insane.) He carried that season success into the playoffs after the Cubs finished with a very nice 93-69 record.
Now, let me get this out of the way--the 1989 NLCS sucked. It was horrible. The Cubs lost four games to one to the San Francisco Giants. Living in Northern California, it was particularly torturous for me because I was surrounded by trash-talking Giants fans who were relentless. Even my favorite history teacher was needling me about it! It felt like absolutely no pitcher on that staff could get Will Clark out, and I hate him and his stupid unibrow to this day. But let's talk about Grace, shall we? Because had the Cubs won that series, his performance would be the stuff of legend.
As good as Clark was, Grace was equally amazing, slashing .647/.682/1.118 for the series with four XBH and 8 RBI. No one else on the team managed more than 4 RBI for the entire series and the team suffered a major power outage--slugger Andre Dawson struggled to hit anything at all with a .105 batting average, much less coming up with any dingers.
If you want to watch the entirety of Game 2 (you know... the one they won) you can do it below. There's a ton of fun stuff to relive there. It also just might make you remember why us olds have such a fondness for Gracie, from before all that weird, ugly stuff.