Prince Fielder has everything, including money and fame.
But Fielder doesn’t have his father.
Although this is more common in the African-American community than we would like to admit, the Fielders are a different story.
Still, it’s sad – to say the least.
Once inseparable, now the pair barely talks.
“I know how much time we spent together, so it used to really, really bother me,” Cecil said in an exclusive interview with The Shadow League on Wednesday, where he also announced he’s writing a book about his ordeal with Prince, due out this year, titled, Blood On The Diamond.
“Ten, 11 years have passed since he graduated high school, so time for me has kind of eased a lot of the pain because I have three other kids that I’m trying to give the same opportunity that he got.
“So my focus has changed.”
Long before Prince was a monster home-run-hitting machine for the Detroit Tigers and before he inked that humongous $214 million deal in Motown, you would not have been able to imagine that Prince and his famous home-run-slugging dad, Cecil, would ever be estranged.
Twenty years ago in Detroit, Cecil was the star of the town, hitting balls out of the old Tiger Stadium. He was the bigger-than-life star of baseball in the early ’90s. At one point, in 1993, Cecil signed a five-year, $36 million contract that made him the highest paid player in ’95 and ’96.
All the way through Cecil’s ride of fame and fortune, Prince was right there. They were two peas in a pod, road dogs, buddies.
If Cecil was there, Prince was there. At the ballpark, in the restaurants – even in Cecil’s national McDonald’s TV commercial.
Cecil even broke some of the late, great Sparky Anderson’s rules concerning kids in the clubhouse and at the ballpark, because he wanted Prince to walk the dirt and smell the grass of the big leagues. It enabled Prince to take batting practice at Tiger Stadium. At 13, Prince was leaving the yard off of BP fastballs.
For sure, no one I’ve ever seen has loved his son more than Cecil. It’s not from hearsay. I was a columnist at the Detroit Free Press back then and spent a lot of time with Cecil. Often, just the three of us would have lunch or dinner together.
Sadly, what once was is no longer the case. The two barely communicate, other than a text every so often. “I got one a few weeks ago,” Cecil said. “I was with Mo Vaughn and we both wanted to say hi and he responded.”
It’s not always that pleasant when the conversation turns to Cecil’s famous father, whose nickname was Big Daddy when he played.
Just the other day, in Lakeland, when I told Prince that I saw his father at the New York Yankees’ facility in Tampa, he just quickly said, “We don’t talk, man.”
Prince simply won’t talk about what has happened to his relationship with his father.
After Prince signed in Detroit, even the people around the Tigers’ organization were told not to bring Cecil up, at all. It’s a sore spot, for sure.
Make that two sore spots. Fielder says the rub between him and his son are: one, Cecil’s divorce from his wife, Prince’s mom, and two, the allegation that Cecil took Prince’s signing bonus when he signed with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Cecil understands the emotional toll an ugly divorce can have on kids – and it was ugly. But he won’t take the blame when it comes to him, allegedly, stealing money from his firstborn.
“Absolutely not,” said Cecil. “I’m not going to take total responsibility for what happened, because it didn’t go down like it was told that it went down.
“As an 18-year-old kid that signed a professional contract, mother and father going through a divorce, everything is going haywire.”
Cecil said that Prince told the divorce judge that his father stole from him.
“This is my whole problem with that situation,” Cecil said. “I never had power-of-attorney over nothing of Prince’s. Ever. There was no way I could have just gone to the bank and taken the money, because I didn’t have power-of-attorney to do it.”
Still, Prince was so hurt, at one point, that he just wanted nothing to do with his father.
According to Cecil, Prince crushed him a few years ago, in Atlanta.
Cecil took his new wife and family to a Brewers-Braves game. The group included Ceclynn, Prince’s younger sister. After the game, they all went downstairs to the visiting clubhouse in hopes of seeing Prince. Cecil said that he told the guard at the door to inform Prince that he and the family were outside waiting on him.
Not only did Prince not come out to see his father, according to Cecil, they were told to leave.
“He sent a policeman out and made me leave the stadium,” Cecil said. “That hurt. That’s just total disrespect.”
Cecil said he felt even more hurt for his daughter. “If he didn’t want to see me, and I can understand that, he could have told the guy, ‘Hey, can you tell my dad I want to see my baby sister. I don’t want to talk to him right now,’” remarked Cecil. “Instead, they escorted me out of the Atlanta Braves Stadium.”
This is a sad chapter in a once great father-and-son friendship.
(Editor’s note: In PART 2 of this story, Cecil looks forward and discusses Prince, family and the future.)