GROSSE POINTE WOODS, Mich. - Detroit's new royalty is almost a native who's travelled the world and returned home.
Prince Fielder was born in Ontario, California in 1984. He is 5 feet 11 inches tall, listed between 275 and 285 pounds but is now a health conscious vegetarian. He is married with two children.
For the purposes of this story he is also well remembered here in Michigan at the Chesquire Park little league diamonds in Grosse Pointe Woods. He was a shy kid, started playing coach pitch baseball and by age 8 was considered highly skilled and fun to watch.
Yes, his father is former Tigers great Cecil Fielder. Those who remember the era say Cecil would come to the park with former Tiger Tony Phillips to watch Prince play. That kept the stands full every game.
Young Fielder played for the Wolverines co-ed baseball team coached by Chuck Thomas. Thomas owns the Lincoln Park Chicken Shack, and told Local 4 in an interview there today he thoroughly enjoyed coaching Prince, especially considering he didn't need much coaching. He already had the skills of a 12 or 13 year old first baseman. Skills Thomas believes came from spending so much time hanging around the Tigers clubhouse.
Thomas says his team was largely family, made up of his son and his son's cousins. Fielder signed up after regular registration and Thomas braced himself when he found out Prince was on his team. It was a great year for the Wolverines; they won the championship. Thomas says Prince would come to his house and hang out with his sons, at one point in the winter they put him on ice skates on the back yard rink. Thomas says his sons wanted to level the playing field a bit with Prince and it worked. Thomas says he was not exactly at home on blades.
Chris Ahee, yes of the Ahee jewelry family, played on that Wolverines team. He says all of the boys and girls hit hard rubber baseballs except Prince. He remembers how the coaches switched to real baseballs for him.
That fact makes the next corner of this story that much more impressive. Prince Fielder at the ripe old age of eight hit a 200 plus foot home run out of the number three diamond at Chesquire Park. Opposing Coach Dave Senter says he will never forget it. No eight year old before or since has hit a home run that far on these diamonds. Dave's son Aaron was there that day too playing against Prince. He remembers only being able to hit a rubber ball past the infield. He also remembers that home run being a real breathtaking stunner.
Thomas says Prince most impressed him with his focus and concentration on the mechanics of the game. He had spent a lot of time inside the Tigers clubhouse and carefully watched and learned. At age eight he was soaking everything baseball up like a sponge.
Most of us can all remember when Cecil Fielder finished his career in 1996. Prince left Michigan for Florida and went to two different high schools where he continued to play impressive baseball. So much so he ended up drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers who sent him to Nashville for minor league ball. He played in Milwaukee for seven years, made the National League All Star team three times, last year he was the All Star Game MVP. Prince was the youngest major leaguer to hit 50 home runs in a season and joined his dad for a unique record, the only father and son team to hit 50 home runs in a season. Prince also has hit two inside the park homeruns. He sports a boatload of tattoos on his arms and neck, one on his neck is apparently his name in Korean. He is married and has two daughters.
He also has a lot of admirers in Metro Detroit. To a person, the notion of Prince Fielder coming back and playing just 13 miles away from his childhood park is an exciting prospect. His childhood friends and acquaintances now revel in the memories made in 1992, when they were there as Prince first started showing his prodigious baseball prowess. They can't wait to see him make his mark in Comerica Park either. It's going to be a fun baseball season to say the least.
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