A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Fielder’s Goal? It’s To “Come Home”
DETROIT — Cecil Fielder wants to come home.
Fielder, the former Tigers slugger, doesn’t just want to get back into baseball, but with the Tigers.
“I just always thought that if I was going to get back into the game of baseball, there was really only one place that I felt I should be, and that’s with the Tigers organization,” Fielder said.
“I just can’t see, for some reason, being anywhere else. It would be a funny feeling to be with another ballclub. Detroit is home. The people there have always treated me well.”
Fielder, a favorite of owner Mike Ilitch, would welcome any type of job. Mostly, he’d like to be a roving hitting instructor and help minor leaguers. But Fielder wouldn’t be against working off the field, in a front-office capacity.
“Like with the Tigers’ corporate sponsors,” Fielder said. “I just want to help this team in anyway I can.”
Clearly, Fielder, 42, is now in position to do so. With a tough divorce and most of his financial difficulties behind him, Fielder has a new life in Atlanta. He and his wife, Angie, were married Dec. 10, and they have a 1-year-old son, Grant. Cecil’s daughter, Ceclyn, from his previous marriage, lives with them, too.
Until recently, Fielder’s main job in life was helping to get his oldest son, Prince, into the majors. Prince, who batted .288 with two homers in 39 games last season, has a good chance to stick this season with the Milwaukee Brewers.
“I’m ready now,” said Fielder, who at his peak earned $9.2 million a season for three straight years. “I know I can help this team.”
Fielder helped the Yankees win the World Series in 1996 — batting .391 against the Atlanta Braves. He started his major league career in Toronto. “Big Daddy” also played with the Angels and Indians. Still, he calls Detroit home.
Nonetheless, it’s not as easy as people think to land a job in Major League Baseball — even if you’re a former player with credentials. “It’s so many ex-players who are worthy of being given the opportunity to get back into the game if the game sees fit to get them back in,” said Fielder, who retired in 1998 with 319 career home runs. “Again, it takes those players time to get in, too.
“It’s just a tough hustle getting in.”
Fielder, who is part owner in the Black Family Channel, has been aggressive, however. He talked with Ilitch and general manager Dave Dombrowski about his desire.
“I have talked to Cecil a few times over the winter,” Dombrowski said. “He owes me a phone call at this point. So I left a phone call into him and have not heard back from him for a while.”
Fielder and Dombrowski finally spoke recently. While Dombrowski said there weren’t any jobs on the field, he told Fielder to get back in touch with him this summer.
Fielder would even consider doing TV work. He’s done a few Tigers games, and he enjoyed analyzing the game and telling classic stories from when he played.
“That would be a fun job,” he said. “You know I like to talk.”
Fielder’s years here never produced a winner — although the last time the Tigers were a .500 club Fielder was a major cog in the lineup.
“We had a team that was offensively capable of outscoring anybody,” said Fielder, who hit 51 homers in 1990. “But we didn’t have the pitching to go with it.”
Still, Fielder made you proud to be a Tigers fan. His home-run heroics were a national story and made people in Baseball America take notice of Detroit. He belongs back home.