Prince Fielder Wins 2012 Home Run Derby, Finishes Father's Chapter
It was 1990.
Within the world-famous ivy confines of Chicago’s Wrigley Field, tens of thousands of excited baseball fans geared up for what was to be an epic Home Run Derby.
On this day, Mark McGwire, Matt Williams, Bobby Bonilla, Jose Canseco, Ken Griffey Jr., Darryl Strawberry and local hero Ryne Sandberg lined up to face each other and become the ultimate silver slugger.
Detroit Tigers first baseman Cecil Fielder, father of current Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder, was also part of this esteemed power lineup. From seemingly out of nowhere, Fielder had taken the MLB world by storm that season after spending a few years overseas in Japan.
An imposing figure—to say the least—Fielder had become one of the most feared hitters in the American League. With 28 homers heading into the All-Star break in 1990, Fielder was the source of many a recurring nightmare for AL pitchers.
But when it came to the 1990 Home Run Derby, Fielder was the one having nightmares afterward. For what began with great anticipation resulted in a goose egg for Detroit's popular slugger.
While Fielder would break his derby homer-less streak a year later in Toronto, his anemic hitting marked the start of a long drought of Tigers losses in the HR contest. After Fielder, Damion Easley, Ivan Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez, Brandon Inge and Miguel Cabrera all came up short.
Combined, these Tigers smacked 44 home runs.
The most homers any Tiger had hit in a single derby was famed catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who thwacked 20 at Comerica Park in 2005, according to the Detroit Free Press.
But Monday night at Kauffman Stadium, Prince Fielder snapped this streak by defeating Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista 12-7 in the championship round.
Yet this great victory was nearly not meant to be.
Fielder almost did not get out of the first round, hitting just five home runs before a festive audience. Fortunately for Prince, Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado Rockies), Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates), Matt Kemp (L.A. Dodgers) and Robinson Cano (New York Yankees) all call came up short.
Given new life, Fielder went to work, smacking 11 bombs in the second round to get to the finals against Bautista.
Then Fielder went into beast mode, smacking long ball after long ball, much to the awe of the Royals home faithful. On the night, Fielder hit 28 long balls, which is the same number of regular season homers Cecil had going into the 1990 derby.
Fielder’s five longest homers were 476 feet, 464 feet, 461 feet, 458 feet and 448 feet. Six of Fielder’s majestic home runs splashed into the colorful fountains at Kauffman Stadium.
With the 2012 title, Fielder became the first player to win the Home Run Derby in both the American and National Leagues. He also became the first player to win the derby in the same state twice (St. Louis and Kansas City). Prince also joins Ken Griffey Jr. as the only multiple-time winners of MLB's Home Run Derby.
But most importantly, at long last Prince finished the chapter and closed the book on one his father began writing more than 20 years ago.
James Morisette is a Featured Writer for Bleacher Report. You can read more of his works here.
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