May 26, 1990. It was a Saturday. The day started out dreary and foggy. There was a light drizzle falling from the overcast sky. And I was in heaven. This day my Dad, myself, and my neighbors had made the hour and a half trek from East Lansing to Detroit to take in a Tigers game at Tiger Stadium. I remember that day vividly. I was 11 years old, a baseball fan first, not yet discovering my love for the hometown team. I was sporting my brand new Pirates cap that I had saved up my UPC’s from cereal boxes and ordered, and the White Sox were in town to take on the Tigers. The game was good, the Sox won 10 -4. But my favorite part of the game is when Cecil Fielder launched a monstrous solo home run into deep left field in the 2nd inning. It was his 18th on the way to 51, the first Tiger to hit 50 home runs since Hank Greenberg had done so in 1938.
But what I remember the most about that day is not the game. It was the on-field clinic before the game. Hundreds of kids got a chance to mingle with all of their baseball heroes. Trammel and Whitaker were there, but for me, no player held my attention like Cecil Fielder did. That man was gigantic! I was amazed at how he smiled and talked to all of the kids about hitting and what it was like to be a big league ballplayer. My love for the game was cemented forever at that moment.
And now its 2012, I still love baseball, and Cecil Fielder is still one of my favorite players of all time. The game has never lost its magic to me, even though I rise and fall with my team, I never lose the joy that baseball brings to me.
But something big has happened in Detroit. Something that brings me back to that same feelings I had sitting on the field 22 years ago. Detroit, Prince has come. Prince Fielder, the extremely talented son of Cecil has landed in the Motor City. The Tigers are my team, but it has been a long time since they have had a player that I instantly identify as “my Tiger”. Justing Verlander has been the closest, but its hard to make him your guy when you only see him every 5 days. Prince though, magically without ever taking a swing in a Tigers uniform has become that to me.
It’s the connection I feel with his father, anticipation of what Prince could do for the Tigers and the amazing things that could be in store. World Series? Home Runs? Energy? All of these things are more than possible, they are probable, and likely!
At the press conference introducing him as the newest Tiger Prince said “This is awesome. It’s kind of a dream come true. I’m excited.” Me too Prince, me too.