Nowadays, when you ask someone young if they remember Cecil Fielder, the response is usually something along the lines of “Do you mean Prince?” For those of us old enough to remember Prince’s father, there is a tale of triumph and tragedy.
Cecil Fielder was a beloved Detroit Tiger in the early 1990s who helped to usher in the Home Run Era. Fielder moved from Toronto to Japan and finally Detroit prior to the 1990 season. He arrived with a bang, ending the year with 51 home runs and becoming the first player to hit the 50 home run plateau since George Foster in 1977.
While in Detroit, Fielder became known as “Big Daddy” to his new fans and was always quick with a smile and impressive with his moon-shot home runs. Not to mention his incredible size; Fielder was conservatively listed at 6’3” and 230 pounds. Between 1990 and 1992 he never failed to live up to the lofty expectations with his power and clutch hitting:
Big Daddy was only destined for one more season in his career with 35 or more home runs and only played over 150 games in a season twice more. While he did have a bit of resurgence in 1996 with 39 home runs and 117 RBI, he had already peaked as a player. That was also Fielder’s last season with the Tigers as he was traded to the Yankees in exchange for Ruben Sierra and Matt Drews. He would stay there for one more season and split his final major league season in 1998 between Anaheim and Cleveland.
Fielder ended his major league career with 319 home runs and 1,008 RBI over 13 seasons. While I remember him most for that amazing 1990 season, he is also remembered for a messy personal life after baseball which included serious gambling issues that took a large toll on the fortune he had earned. Unfortunately, during that time he also endured a contentious divorce. He and his son Prince are estranged and it has been reported that it was caused by Cecil’s demand to be paid for negotiating Prince’s first contract.
While it’s clear that the feats of a player on the baseball field may sometimes seem superhuman, at the end of the day we are all just mere mortals. Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes it means we have to be reminded of that fact by our childhood heroes.