Prince, Cecil Fielder Talk MLB's Unwritten Rules, Home Run Derby Format and More

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMay 16, 2019

Source: Kingsford (Division of Clorox)

As one of the greatest father-son duos in Major League Baseball history, Cecil and Prince Fielder have partnered up for a new project that fans can take advantage of. 

Along with David Ortiz, the Fielders are working with Kingsford Charcoal to present Kingsford's new Body By BBQ creative to promote the brand's Taste of the Game campaign. 

"I've been barbecuing pretty much all my adult life," Cecil said about joining the campaign. "It was a no-brainer to get involved with Kingsford."

In addition to the Fielder family's affinity for barbecue, they also remain engaged with what's happening around MLB. Their combined accomplishments stack up well against other famous father-son tandems who have made it to the big leagues. 

MLB.com's Andrew Simon ranked Prince and Cecil as the 10th-best father-son pairing in MLB history with a combined 40.8 wins above replacement.

Power was a critical component to the success of both players. They joined Bobby and Barry Bonds as the only father-son pairs in MLB to each hit at least 300 homers when Prince reached that milestone in 2015. Their 638 combined home runs ranks third all-time, behind the Bonds (1,094) and Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. (782). 

Home runs are one of the most-talked about topics in MLB right now, especially for the way players are choosing to celebrate them and the sanctity of the "unwritten rules."

Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson caused a stir when he threw his bat after launching a pitch from Kansas City Royals starter Brad Keller over the right field wall on April 17. 

Cecil had two different stints in MLB totaling 13 seasons from 1985 to 1988 and 1990 to 1998. He used his experience from an old-school generation to explain why there weren't more flamboyant celebrations during his playing days.

"My era, it really was just not acceptable," Cecil said. "It just really wasn't acceptable. I think looking back on it, guys talked about 'it's the generation before's fault for the way the guys are acting now.' But I disagree with that. It's a sign of the times. It's just being allowed. If guys during my era were allowed to do it, they probably would've done it.

"I really don't like it, but there's nothing I can do about it, so just let it carry on."

On the other hand, Prince had at least a small role in popularizing the home run celebration trend that continues in 2019.

"I love it," Prince said about seeing players do bat flips. "Everybody's always saying how 'nobody likes watching baseball.' I think baseball is doing very good now. Obviously I've had some nice celebrations. I've probably done some stuff nobody liked at times, but you hit the guy, then what?"

"There's a fight," Cecil chimed in. "Sometimes you gotta fight."

The Fielder patriarch knows what he's talking about. The next time Anderson stepped up to the plate against the Royals, Keller hit him with a pitch, leading to a benches-clearing brawl between both teams. 

"My thing is, it makes the game fun," Prince noted. "It's like saying you don't like people dancing on a touchdown. ... To hit a home run is not easy, so when you do it, and it's a big situation, you want to celebrate."

One reason there are more opportunities for players to celebrate homers is because the ball is leaving the yard at historic rates. This season is on pace to set a new MLB record with an average of 1.3 home runs hit per game. 

The rise in power has also corresponded with decreasing contact totals. MLB is on pace to set a new record for strikeouts per game (8.83) for the 12th straight season dating back to 2008. 

"[Teams] would rather you strike out than hit a ground ball," Prince said. "They'd rather you strike out than hit a fly ball. ... The metrics and all that stuff they brought to the game, there's some of that stuff you can use, but as a hitter you're gonna go on instinct."

MLB's Home Run Derby during All-Star week is the one place everyone gathers around to celebrate power hitters. The Fielders are no strangers to the annual long ball showcase. Cecil was part of the event in 1990, 1991 and 1993. 

Prince was a staple of the Home Run Derby with six appearances from 2007 to 2015, including two wins in 2009 and 2012. 

Despite being one of MLB's most popular events, getting top stars to participate has been difficult in recent years. Bryce Harper put on a show last year at Nationals Park, stealing a win from Kyle Schwarber with a walk-off homer at the buzzer. 

Superstars like Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Christian Yelich and Francisco Lindor have not taken part in the Home Run Derby in their careers. 

Prince believes one reason stars opt to sit it out is because the single-elimination timed-round format adopted in 2015 can be physically taxing. 

"The new format is cool," he said. "I did it once [in 2015], but I don't think that [format] would've been one that I kept doing."

Cecil pointed out it can be "tough" for players to do what they need to do to get set and time their swing as they are trying to focus on how much time is left on the clock. 

Even though Cecil and Prince were accustomed to showing off their power, they both admitted there were pitchers they didn't want to see if they had to step up to the plate with the game on the line. 

When Cecil was at his peak with the Detroit Tigers in the early 1990s, he routinely went up against Roger Clemens during his heyday with the Boston Red Sox. It was a task the three-time All-Star didn't enjoy. 

"He got me out more than anybody," Cecil explained. "He just had pinpoint control, threw hard. He could throw all of his pitches for strikes. He was very tough."

Per Chad Evely of FanGraphs, Cecil vs. Clemens was the third-most lopsided hitter vs. pitcher matchup during the period from 1990 to 2009. The two-time Silver Slugger winner was 2-for-46 with two singles and 21 strikeouts in those matchups. 

Prince also went with a starting pitcher, citing current New York Yankees lefty CC Sabathia as the guy he didn't want to face.

"It's just tough, man. The guy is 6'7", lefty. It's not comfortable," he said. "You've gotta stay in there, then when he throws a slider that starts at you and ends up in the other batter's box, it's frustrating. That's a tough day."

Even though Prince didn't like facing Sabathia, he enjoyed a lot of success against the big southpaw. The six-time All-Star went 9-for-26 with an .893 OPS in their individual matchups. 


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In addition to having the upper hand in that regard, Cecil admitted it's "not even a question" his son is the superior barbecue cook in the family. 

With the upcoming release of the Taste of the Game cookbook featuring signature recipes for all 30 MLB teams, Cecil and Prince were able to find common ground in praising different dishes available for fans to try when hosting parties. 

"I like tacos," Prince said. "Obviously, everybody likes chicken tacos. But I've really started liking fish tacos. There's a fish taco recipe in [the book] that I really do like."

Cecil noted even though he "usually doesn't stray" from his own recipe, there is a rib recipe in the book he would encourage everyone to try. 

The partnership between father and son continues Prince's busy post-retirement life. His career came to an abrupt end in August 2016 after undergoing two spinal fusion surgeries. 

Since being forced to walk away from MLB at the age of 32, he's taken time to recreate one of the most famous images from his 2014 appearance in ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue:

OnMilwaukee @onmilwaukee

That famous naked Prince Fielder photo just got a beefy remake https://t.co/CgF0kcOvY8 https://t.co/cs2Ym64dQU

Prince and his wife, Chanel, also launched a cooking show on Amazon Prime called Fielder's Choice Food Show. It only had six episodes over one season but included guests ranging from former MLB All-Stars like Ken Griffey Jr. and Dexter Fowler to rapper Xzibit and actor Chazz Palminteri. 

All things considered, Prince was able to take a difficult situation that took away his livelihood and found a second career in a field he's clearly passionate about. It doesn't hurt that he gets to share this time with his father.


Prince and Cecil spoke with B/R behalf of Kingsford Charcoal. These two, along with David Ortiz, gathered around the grill to star in Kingsford's new Body By BBQ creative promoting the brand's Taste of The Game campaign. Extra Saucy. Extra Meaty. It's Body By BBQKingsford style. This season, Kingsford is celebrating the best of barbecue and baseball with the release of the Taste of the Game cookbook featuring 30 regional dishes inspired by the teams, cities and flavors of Major League Baseball. You can find your team's recipe online at Kingsford.com/TasteOfTheGame.