07/11/2004 6:59 PM ET
Fielders relish doubleheader
Cecil and Prince Fielder together at ASG festivities
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- The big man sat toward the back of the room Sunday afternoon, next to Ozzie Smith, Dave Winfield, Matthew Modine and other legends and celebrities, during the pregame meeting for participants of the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game at Minute Maid Park.
|Prince Fielder went 1-for-3 in the USA team's win in the Futures Game. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Then, while Harold Reynolds and Kenny Mayne of ESPN were up on the podium going over procedural matters with the star-studded and eclectic group, Cecil Fielder turned to look at a TV monitor behind him where his son Prince was playing for the USA team in the New York Mercantile Exchange All-Star Futures Game.
Hey, you couldn't blame Fielder for being a little distracted in that situation. It's not as if he never played in an All-Star Game, for one thing, and while Prince was ripping a single to left in his first Futures Game at-bat out on the field, there was one proud papa in that interview room inside the bowels of the stadium.
"It's awesome," Cecil said of the father-son doubleheader. "Once they chose Prince to play, they called me. It was an easy choice to come here and be part of it.
"I'm very proud of him. He's his own man. He's going to do his own thing."
Prince, 20, is a first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers' Double-A Huntsville (Ala.) affiliate in the Southern League. He is hitting .252 with 13 homers, 41 RBIs and seven stolen bases, and although he hits left-handed (Cecil hit righty) and sprays to all fields for a higher average so far, it has been like father, like son, from a power perspective.
When informed of his father's comments, Prince agreed. "I just think he played when he played, and now I'm playing," he said. "I'm trying to make my own name."
Cecil made his name with 319 home runs in a 13-year Major League career from 1985-98, spent mostly with the Detroit Tigers, but also splitting time with the Blue Jays, Yankees, Angels and Indians. He was on winning AL All-Star teams in 1990, 1991 and 1993, and he said the first one was the most special. It came during that 51-homer season, which marked the first year any AL hitter had reached the 50-homer mark since Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle in 1961.
"That was the most fun, coming back from Japan after playing there in '89, and then being picked to play in the All-Star Game my first year back," Fielder said. "It was just a joy to play, because of what I had to go through to get there."
Today -- besides gradually becoming known to many younger fans as the father of Prince Fielder -- Cecil is a partner and co-vice chairman in the Atlanta-based Major Broadcasting Cable (MBC) Network. His partners include former boxing heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, Marlon Jackson (of the Jackson 5), broadcasting veteran Alvin James and CEO Willie E. Gary (a lawyer renowned for legal victories against giant corporations). The all-African-American-owned network airs programming such as movies, live black-college sports, music videos and ministry, and Fielder said MBC will be renamed the Black Family Channel in October.
"We're in 13 million homes now, and we'll be available in 30 million," Fielder said. "It's a very important TV network in a lot of people's lives. We want to provide a positive alternative to the negative programming choices currently available to American families."
Fielder oversees the day-to-day operations at MBC Network and serves as one of the company's chief voices, having addressed President George Bush, White House cabinet officers and members of the U.S. Congress on behalf of the broadcasting company. In addition to his responsibilities at MBC Network, Fielder operates a multimillion dollar trucking and logistics company based in Detroit.
Sunday afternoon, Fielder was back on the baseball field and slugging with celebrities and some of his contemporaries. The best part, though, was just being part of a doubleheader with his son, who bears a definite physical resemblance and is, by all accounts, on his way toward a productive Major League career of his own.
Back in that pregame meeting room, Mayne looked out at the crowd and said, "I was looking at the bios for everyone, and I couldn't help noticing that where you write your experience level, Harold put down, 'Advanced.' "
The players in the crowd -- such as 2004 Miss USA Shandi Finnessey and "The Apprentice" winner Bill Rancic -- got a hearty laugh. Then everyone listened as Reynolds told them they would each have two game jerseys in their locker, and to wear the one with the Taco Bell logo and to keep the other one.
Fielder? He was listening, but he's been to an All-Star function or two, and he had one eye on the proceedings and one on that monitor. Prince was playing his old position of first base, and you couldn't blame a dad for wanting to watch.
Prince played the entire game as Cecil watched most of it from the stands, going 1-for-3 with six putouts at first, and helping the USA team hold on to a 4-3 victory.
"It was a lot of fun, and a couple guys out there I remembered from rookie ball," Prince said. "I'm glad we could pull it out at the end. The [World team] was tough, but it was fun."
Standing in front of his locker in the USA team clubhouse, Prince was asked how he felt about this unique family doubleheader.
"It's pretty cool," he said. "It's the closest we'll ever be to playing on the same field."
Was he going back out on the field to watch his father play in the softball game?
"Naw," he said. He has seen enough of Dad's games.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.