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Get To Know Your Nationals: First Base Coach Marquis Grissom.

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I have mixed emotions about Marquis Grissom's return to the DC franchise, (as Manager Manny Acta's First Base Coach, and part of the new regime installed by Acta and DC GM Jim Bowden), because of the memories it brings up for me as a Montreal fan who watched the then 27-year old center fielder depart in April of 1995 after hitting .288 with 25 doubles, 11 HR's, 45 RBI's and 36 steals for the NL East's first place Expos', whose 74-40 record the previous season all but ensured them of a playoff appearance in most people's minds, had the '94 strike not ended all hope of that happening for only the second time in the team's history. 

Grissom, who had been drafted by Montreal in the 3rd Round of the 1988 Amateur Draft with the 76th overall pick, debuted with the Expos on August 22, 1989 and in his first full season in the Majors in 1991, stole 76 bases in 148 games while hitting .267 with 23 doubles, 9 triples, 6 HR's and 39 RBI's. The next year, Grissom only got better, hitting .276 with 78 steals, 39 doubles, 6 triples, 9 HR's and 66 RBI's to finish ninth overall in MVP voting on a Montreal team that finished second behind only the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Old NL East

In '93, Grissom only stole 53 bases, which would end up his third best season total, but his power numbers rose a bit with a .298 AVG, 27 doubles, 2 triples, 9 HR's and 95 RBI's, and he ended up eighth overall in MVP voting while also making his first of two career All-Star appearances in the last full season he'd play in Montreal... 

After the strike-shortened '94 season, Grissom was dealt to the Atlanta Braves in return for Tony Tarasco, (who played one season with the Expos, hitting .249 with 18 doubles,14 HR's and 40 RBI's before being dealt the next March to the Orioles), Esteban Yan, (who never played a game for Montreal and was "purchased" by Baltimore the next year for an undisclosed sum), and Roberto Kelly, (who lasted a month in Montreal before being dealt to LA, contributing 4 doubles, 1 HR, 9 RBI's, and a .274 AVG to the Expos' '95 campaign), while Grissom hit just .258 in 139 regular season games with Atlanta...before hitting .574 with 3 HR's in 4 games of an NLDS win over Colorado, .263 in a 4-game NLCS win over Cincinnati, and then .360 in 25 at bats over 6 games of the Atlanta Braves' World Series' victory over the Cleveland Indians...

By the time Grissom officially retired from baseball, (after trying to make it through one more Spring with the Chicago Cubs in 2006), the then-38-year-old Grissom was recognized by the Cubs' in an Official Press Release entitled simply, "Marquis Grissom retires", for his career achievements, including the fact that:

"At the time of his retirement, he ranked fourth among all active leaders with 429 stolen bases and was 55th on the big league all-time list, having stolen 20 or more bases in 10 of his 17 seasons..."

You have to choose between the basepaths and the Postseason to decide where Marquis Grissom really earned his rep, because in addition the 429 career stolen bases, Grissom also, (again, according the Cubs' Press Release):

"...made 52 postseason appearances, batting a combined .317 with 15 extra-base hits and 20 RBI. He saw action in every round of the postseason, including appearing in 14 games for the 1995 World Champion Atlanta Braves, and was named the most valuable player of the 1997 American League Championship Series."

Two years after retiring, Grissom was hired as the Nationals' First Base Coach, having never coached, "at the professional level" according the MLB.com's Bill Ladson in an article entitled, "Nats add five coaches", where Mr. Ladson also quotes DC GM Jim Bowden, who explains:

"'All [Grissom] has done is teach his whole life...He is a leader in the clubhouse. Marquis will be the guy that Milledge, Elijah Dukes, Willie Harris, Emilio Bonifacio and Ryan Zimmerman will really listen to.'"

In Chico Harlan's Washington Post "Nationals Journal" entry entitled, "About the coaches", Mr. Harlan writes that Grissom's role with DC will be to, "...instruct the team on baserunning and outfield(sic?)," and in Mr. Harlan's expanded Washington Post article, "Nats add Grissom, Listach as coaches", the Post's writer explains:

"The Nationals are rich with speedy, inexperienced outfielders and middle infielders, so they picked two recent major leaguers, ex-outfielder Marquis Grissom and ex-infielder Pat Listach, who are familiar with the exact skills those players must hone."

More on Mr. Listach tomorrow...All I have to add for now...A Note to Lastings,

"Uh, Mr. Milledge? When Grissom says go...GO!!!!!

...and one more thing...

(ed. note - "I was gonna write a more official open letter tomorrow, but I couldn't wait, because once again, MLB.com's Bill Ladson, for the second week now, in his "Mailbag" feature, this one entitled, "Mailbag: Looking at Lannan's futures", writes, in response to a question about the possibililty of DC acquiring Mark Teixeira, that:

"I assume the Nationals would have to break the bank to sign Teixeira, and I don't see them doing that. I think they have to trade for a first baseman, such as the Brewers' Prince Fielder."

The first time? MLB.com's Bill Ladson also mentioned the name "Fielder" last week in an article about Nick Johnson entitled, "For Johnson, injuries may linger into '09", where Mr. Ladson wrote that neither Johnson or Dmitri Young are guaranteed to start the '09 season in the lineup, and therefore:

"Whether they go out and spend a lot of money on a free agent such as Mark Teixeira remains to be seen. They most likely will have to trade for a player such as Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder. This much is certain: Washington wants a middle-of-the-order bat."

Now? Is Mr. Ladson simply campaigning for Mr. Fielder by putting his name out there, much like I've continued to note that if Los Angeles signs Teixeira, it might be a good idea to trade for Cuban-born first baseman Kendry Morales just to get that universal consciousness stirring? Or is DC seriously considering a run at the big vegetarian free agent, the son of Cecil, one Prince Fielder this offseason? Wouldn't he look good at first for the Nationals? Don't tease the DC Faithful, Mr. Ladson...Are you serious about Fielder?")