The Black Paul Bunyan turns 34 years old today and instead of celebrating his 14th dominant MLB season, I’m forced to reflect on one of the saddest days in my baseball life. In 2016, Black Knight Prince Fielder was forced to abruptly retire from 12 years into a booming career because of neck and spinal problems.
(Today’s Afro Birthdays ! MLB player, Prince Fielder ! MLB player, Tony Gwynn ! Olympic Gold Medalist, Ralph Boston ! Singer, Tamia !) – Afro Universe – https://t.co/jI2G1uNkh2 – …
Prince grew up as a kid running around MLB clubhouses and is the son of former Yankees and Detroit Tigers slugger Cecil Fielder. They are the only father-son combination in MLB history to each hit 50 bombs in a season.
Cecil blasted 51 homers in 1990 for the Tigers.
10/3/90: Tigers radio announcer Paul Carey makes the call on Cecil Fielder’s 50th home run of the 1990 season Check out http://m.mlb.com/video for our full archive of videos, and subscribe on YouTube for the best, exclusive MLB content: http://youtube.com/MLB About MLB.com: Commissioner Allan H.
Prince, a first baseman, hit 50 for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007.
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Ironically, both finished their careers with 319 home runs.
Back in 2013 I wrote this about Prince Fielder in an article, It’ll Take A Minute, But The HOF’s Future Is Tight: “Fielder is a throwback hacker in the Reggie Jackson, swing-from-the-heels-on-every-cut mode. He already has 277 homers in less than eight full seasons in the pros and a .530 career slugging percentage. At the tender age of 29, his career has HOF written all over it.”
Flanked by his two sons and agent Scott Boras and flushed with sadness and tears, Fielder officially announced his retirement at an unforgettable press conference in Arlington. Wearing a brace after neck surgery, Fielder was emotional throughout and Ill never forget the look of dejection in he and his son’s eyes when he said, I feel like this was taken away from me early in reference to his MLB career which spanned three teams (Milwaukee, Detroit, Texas).
One dopey reporter compared Fielders situation to Yankees icon Lou Gehrig who was forced to retire and eventually died from ALS which is also known as Lou Gehrig Disease. It was far-fetched, but the pain and shock of the loss — in that moment — was comparable.
PrinceFielder asked if he “sort of understands what Lou Gehrig was going through in his famous speech” #Rangers https://t.co/DOiohj2XXX
“Doctors told me that with two spinal fusions, I can’t play major league baseball anymore,” Fielder said. “I want to thank my teammates, all the coaching staff. I’m going to really miss being around those guys. I had a lot of fun.”
At the tender age of 32, Fielder was a shooting star snatched out of the air and stolen from the game before he could leave his full imprint on the sport. The left-handed slugger finished in the Top 5 in MVP voting three times and was a compact, brolic presence who had a vicious, power-potent swing. As a six-time All-Star Fielder averaged 35 home runs from 2006-13. At his peak, Fielder was considered one of the most feared hitters in the game, missing only 13 games during those eight seasons.
Happy Birthday to a Black Knight who distinguished himself as one of the premier hitters of his generation before the unexpected demon called injury cut his monumental body of work short.