06/19/2002 01:32 am ET
Brewers meet their Prince
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- What a moment, and just two days after Father's Day.
Cecil Fielder, who went 6-foot-3, 250 pounds in his Major League playing days and perhaps has packed on a few pounds since, choked back tears Tuesday talking about his son. Six-foot, 255-pound Prince Fielder was the Milwaukee Brewers' No. 1 pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft and signed his first pro contract on Monday.
Tears appeared in his eyes as the elder Fielder described how proud he was of his son's accomplishments Tuesday at Miller Park. He gave junior a healthy whack on the arm, embraced him and rested his head on his shoulder.
"It's an emotional time, what the heck," Cecil said, wiping his eyes. "It's a dream come true."
Prince, an 18-year-old who later bombed a few home runs in Brewers batting practice, just smiled.
He will report to Milwaukee's Pioneer League affiliate in Ogden, Utah for the club's home opener Wednesday and begin his professional career. Both Fielders said they hope Prince's performance there proves that he's not only an all-or-nothing slugger.
"I never though of myself as a power hitter, really," said Prince, who hit 10 home runs and drove in 41 runs in his final high school season. "When I go up to hit I just think a lot about line drives.
"Sometimes dad will make fun of me, saying, 'What are you doing?' I'll get a base hit up the middle and he'll say, 'What are you doing, just trying to tap the ball?' And I say, 'That's my game man.' You want to hit 'em hard sometimes, but if you hit 'em soft where they ain't it's a hit, too."
The elder Fielder may give his son a hard time ("Sometimes he doesn't like what I say but I know he listens," said Cecil Fielder) but he is also his biggest supporter.
"I'm hard on Prince," Cecil said. "I guess I'm his toughest critic. I see things in Prince, man... it's different. He's got so much potential and it's not brought out yet.
"There's special people that come into the game. There's special guys that you know are destined for fame. I think he's got the ability to be great. It's up to Prince to out his hard work and dedication into what he loves to do."
Prince will participate in a Brewers program that helps young players continue their education, fulfilling a promise he made to his mother when Prince decided to forego college for professional baseball.
And he's looking forward to playing at the bottom of the bush leagues, even though he saw first hand the comforts of the Major Leagues tailing his father as a youngster.
"My dad's been telling me it's going to be fun. He says bus rides build character or whatever," Prince Fielder said. "It doesn't really mater if I have to walk or catch a bus or whatever, I just want to play baseball."
He'll get that opportunity, admittedly against opposing pitchers of a higher caliber than those he faced at Eau Gallie High School in Melbourne, Fla. who walked him so often you'd think he was Barry Bonds.
"Now I don't have to worry about going to the ballpark and not swinging the bat at all cause now everybody's good," he said. "Everybody has confidence now. If they get me out it's good for them, so they're going to come after me. I have to be ready."
Cecil was annoyed by scouting reports that compared father and son. Prince, he insisted, has a chance to be better than the guy who hit 319 home runs in the Major Leagues.
"This guy just isn't a one-dimensional guy, as I've heard," said Cecil Fielder of his son. "He's not just a power hitter. I was a power hitter. I swung and missed a lot. Different here. It's a different kid."
They have a similar build. Prince is listed at 255 pounds, and that's after the family hired a personal trainer to work his weight down from near 300 pounds. Still, the Brewers describe him as an outstanding athlete with good speed.
Now, he'll leave home for the first time in his lift to show his skills as a pro.
"I think he's going to have to go out on his own for a little bit and deal with things on his own for a little while," Cecil Fielder said. "I hate to say that, if it were up to me I'd probably be there for the whole summer. For him, he's got to get his feet wet."
The elder Fielder played in the Pioneer League in Butte, Mont. 20 years ago.
Adam McCalvy covers the Brewers for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.