For a while it seemed as if Prince might have grown a bit too much. As a sophomore in high school he weighed 306 pounds. Prince asked his father to hire him a personal trainer, who helped whip the teenager into shape.
Prince had the sweet stroke all along. His dad says he didn't have much to do with that besides passing along his genes, though he did insist that his son, a righthander, swing from the left side. This spring Prince put on a batting-practice show at the Tigers' spring training site in Lakeland, Fla., hitting eight tape-measure shots. Detroit Hall of Famer Al Kaline, standing near the warning track, assumed he was watching the team's first baseman, Randall Simon, take his cuts.
"At 18 years old he can handle the bat like a big leaguer," Big Daddy says. "I can't believe it sometimes. Prince is a different breed. Sometimes I want to give him advice, but then he puts the next pitch over the wall in centerfield, and what am I going to say?"
Cecil knows that, at age 38, he's leading a charmed life. He lives in a Space Coast mansion in Melbourne with his wife, Stacey, and daughter Ceclynn, 10. He is a part-owner of MBC Network, a cable station based in Atlanta, for which he hosts a sports show with 13 new installments a year.
Mostly, though, he follows his son's burgeoning career. The two spent last year going to showcases for the scouts, in places such as Wilmington, N.C., and Jupiter, Fla. The Fielders had 50 friends and family members over for the June 4 draft and whooped it up when Brewers scouting director Jack Zduriencik called just before it started to say that Milwaukee would take Prince if he lasted until the seventh spot. Prince did, and the Brewers drafted him. Two weeks later the younger Fielder agreed to a $2.4 million signing bonus. Cecil served as his son's agent, to ensure that Prince signed quickly and could keep the entire bonus. "Agents made enough money off me," Cecil says.
On June 19, in his first game for the Ogden ( Utah) Raptors of the Pioneer Rookie League, Prince blasted a grand slam. "In our estimation he is the best power hitter in the country," Zduriencik says of Prince, who is eager to prove the Milwaukee executive correct. He can't wait to return to the majors, as a player instead of a player's son.
"I look at him every day, and he's like, Dad, what are you looking at?" says Cecil, who on June 28 showed up in Utah to begin monitoring Prince's progress. "I'm looking at myself again, you know what I mean? It's awesome, man, just awesome." You can already picture Cecil sitting in Milwaukee's Miller Park five years from now, lighting up another stogie as Prince trots around the bases after another tape-measure homer. Big Daddy's son is rising, and he isn't about to miss the show.