A harsh, grim reality is finally falling over Brewers fans: the beloved slugger Prince Fielder will not be a mainstay in the cleanup spot for Ron Roenicke and the Brewers anymore. In a well chronicled free agency with no void of wild, circulating rumors surround Prince, the former Brewers first baseman signed with Detroit for nine years and $214 million. The inevitability of the day that Milwaukee attempted to ignore was finally a crashing reality.
Looking back, Fielder provided the Brewers with dozens of memories on the field. He was an everyday shoe-in for the cleanup spot and was adored by the fan base. On behalf of every person to proudly don a navy blue cap emblazoned with a metallic gold ‘M’ underlined in barley, thank you, Prince.
For one last tribute to No. 28, here are his 28 most memorable moments as a Milwaukee Brewer.
28. Cover Boy (2007, ’11)
Fielder was featured on the cover of ESPN: The Magazine in the August 13, 2007 edition and, again, on the August 29, 2011 edition of Sports Illustrated along with Ryan Braun and Nyjer Morgan. His first appearance on a magazine cover for ESPN marketed his name to the national audience, despite playing in “small town” Milwaukee. You can see the recent SI cover here.
27. Home Run #200 (2011)
In only six seasons with the Crew, Fielder amassed a total of 230 homers, good for second in franchise history. The historic 200th round-tripper came on May 11, 2011 at Miller Park off of Tim Stauffer of the Padres. Trailing 5-3 with two outs in the fifth, Fielder hit a line drive over the fence in right-center to tie the game and reach the 200 homer mark. He was the first Brewers player to reach the plateau since Geoff Jenkins in 2007.
26. Post-NLDS Interview (2011)
I searched long and hard for this one–trust me–and finally found this footage of Fielder’s interview with TBS after the Brewers 3-2 Game Five of the NLDS. For some, this moment may not even be memorable or already may have been forgotten about (probably because of this). But for me, Prince’s reaction after advancing to the NLCS was priceless. He displayed immense shades of T. Plush when TBS reporter Sam Ryan asked him for an interview after the on-field celebration. Caught in the emotion of the moment, Fielder started talking, couldn’t produce any semblance of words, and simply uttered the words of Plush: “I GOTTA GO.” Attaboy, Prince.
On the final day of the 2009 season, with St. Louis already having clinched the division and Milwaukee eliminated from playoff contention, is when Tony LaRussa’s douchiest moment as a manager against the Brewers happened. Fielder entered the game batting .297, needing a 4-6 game to reach the .300 mark for the season. After a single and two homers, Prince was sitting at .299 with one plate appearance left and needing a hit to reach .300. What does LaRussa do at a point when the game meant nothing to either team? He intentionally walked him, and Fielder finished the season at .299.
24. Payback against Pittsburgh (2007)
Pittsburgh may be the most relieved team too see the Prince swap out of the NL Central. The first of many memorable moments against the Pirates (trust me, there’s a lot more to come), Fielder was drilled by a Matt Capps fastball in May of 2007 after a JJ Hardy three-run home run. The pitch was justifiably deemed intentional and Capps received a four game suspension from MLB disciplinary czar Bob Watson. Fielder avenged the hit by pitch the next night by blasting two home runs and scoring the winning run, after which he stared down the Pirates bench, gesturing emotionally, before being shown the way back to the home dugout. Since that series, the Pirates are 4-37 at their house of horrors, Miller Park.
23. Houston, We Have Blast Off (2011)
486 feet. I’ll just let this do all the talking.
22. Third in MVP Voting in 2007, 2011
After becoming the youngest player to hit 50 home runs in a season and slugging .618, Fielder took third place in the National League Most Valuable Player voting, trailing only the winner Jimmy Rollins of Philadelphia and the Rockies’ Matt Holliday. Again in 2011, Fielder took third, behind Matt Kemp of Los Angeles and teammate and winner Ryan Braun. Fielder hit 38 homers, drove in 120 runs, and batted .299 on the division champion Brewers.
21. Splash Hit in San Fran (2008)
On July 17, 2008, Fielder went yard at San Francisco’s AT&T Park. If that wasn’t already the hardest place to dial 8 in the Bigs, it would still be just incredibly impressive that the ball of his bat landed in McCovey Cove for a “Splash Hit”. Check the blast out here, and see how quickly all those sailboats went scurrying for the Fielder Blast.
20. Salami for Prince (2009)
The once-renowned vegetarian hit his first and only career grand slam on June 15, 2009 against Cleveland. Once down 8-3, Milwaukee
(sitting in first place at 34-29) had managed to cut the lead down to one before Chris Narveson and Mark DiFelice surrendered four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Down 12-7 and facing former Brewers greats Greg Aquino and Luis “Lose the Lead” Vizcaino, the Crew drew within three after RBI from Corey Hart and Ryan Braun. With the bags full and facing erratic lefty Rafael Perez in the eighth, Prince roped a line drive that cleared the right field fence at Progressive to give the Brewers a 13-12 lead they would not relinquish. This was also the moment that made Braun and Fielder’s home run celebration (below) particularly exoteric.
19. Everyday I’m Scufflin’ (2008)
Though more people tend to remember his attempt to reach the LA Dodgers clubhouse and confront Guillermo Mota, his in-game altercation with teammate Manny Parra in 2008, to me, is more important. After surrendering six runs in six innings, Parra was taken out for a pinch hitter and infuriated Fielder by heading toward the clubhouse instead of remaining with the rest of the team in the dugout. Prince shoved Parra twice before being restrained by teammates. This singular moment may have turned the Brewers ’08 season around, precipitating an eight-game win streak that vaulted Milwaukee to the top of the National League Wild Card standings. Unlike the not-so-brawl at Dodger Stadium that was over-hyped by the media, Fielder’s scuffle with Parra was a turning point in their season.
18. Time to Send ‘Em Home (2011)
What remained of a Friday night crowd of 33,361 at Miller Park on May 20, 2011 went home happy after enduring a marathon between the Rockies and the Brewers. A game that featured 14 different pitchers and lasted four hours and 35 minutes ended abruptly with a no-doubter into the right field bleachers to give Milwaukee a 7-6 victory in 14 innings. The Brewers trailed 6-5 with one out when Fielder hit the two-run walk off homer that launched a sweep of Colorado.
17. Move Over, Coop (2009)
On September 19, 2009, with 14 games remaining in the season, Fielder broke Cecil Cooper’s single-season franchise record of 126 RBI with a sacrifice fly against the Cooper-managed Houston Astros. He would go on to drive in 141 runs on the season, tied for the league lead with Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard.
16. First Career Walk Off (2005)
I remember as a 10 year-old boy, listening to Bob Uecker call the Pirates-Brewers game on August 31, 2005, just days after the infamous tragedy that was Hurricane Katrina. Trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth, that new guy called up to the Brewers pinch hit for Derrick Turnbow–I had to refute the temptation to turn his name into the oft-mentioned joke–and added another career first to his mantel. After Pirates closer Jose Mesa, indelible to Brewers fans for giving up Robin Yount’s 3000th hit, walked Lyle Overbay on four pitches, Fielder began his legend as a Brewer by hitting a towering walk off homer to win 6-5 much to the chagrin of Mesa. The Brewers finished 2005 at 81-81 and, much to the credit of Fielder’s walk off blast, ended their 12 year streak of finishing with a losing record. Oh how would the Buccos soon become ever so familiar with big No. 28…..
15. Prince’s Debut Single (2005)
Technically, Prince’s first Big League hit was a double, but please tell me you get the reference. After taking the collar two nights before in his Major League debut, Fielder took care of business and picked up his first of many hits to come with a double down the right field line of Hideo Nomo a frozen rope that would soon become colloquial at Miller Park and stadiums across the country. The double marked the start of Prince’s memorable career as a Brewer.
14. Beast Mode (2011)
Yup. A picture’s worth a thousand words. Aka, shut up, Curt and let the pictures do the talking.
13. Prince Becomes Brewers HR King (2007)
“There’s a new home run champion of all time…and it’s Prince Fielder.”
Okay, I get it. I’m not Milo Hamilton and Hank Aaron didn’t just break Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record, but on September 15, 2007, Fielder gained sole possession of the Brewers single season home run record. His third inning dinger was number 46 on the season, surpassing Gorman Thomas and Richie Sexson, who were previously tied for the record with 45 homers apiece. He would hit 46 homers again in 2009, only behind his 2007 eventual total of 50.
12. Catcher in the Way (2006)
Prince Fielder, meet Todd Greene. Todd Greene, meet Prince Fielder.
In a type of play Giants fans would soon grow to hate, Fielder completely obliterated San Francisco catcher Todd Greene on a May afternoon in 2006. After an extra base hit to right field, Fielder was waved home and was beaten easily by the throw. He went to his last resort and simply lit up Greene, jarring the ball loose and scoring. The photo beneath shows Greene shaken up by a perfectly fine Fielder as he watches Corey Koskie get tagged out.
11. Snake Bitten (2011)
NLDS. Game One. Brewers 2. D’Backs 0. Ian Kennedy fastball. Prince Fielder blast off. Gave the Brewers a 4-0 lead and clinched their first playoff series lead since 1982.
10. First Career Home Run (2005)
In a well document game, both Prince and Rickie Weeks hit their first career homers against Jesse Crain and two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana of the Twins, respectively. As Darren Sutton said of Fielder’s round-tripper, it was ” career home run number one for the man who is Prince but will soon be king.” Fittingly, Fielder’s three-run homer came with the Brewers trailing 5-4 and would prove to be the winning hit. It was the beginning of great things for both Prince and Rickie.
9. Hunting Cards in October (2011)
Down 5-2 in the fifth inning in Game One of the National League Championship Series, the Brewers bats exploded. Base hits by Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, and Ryan Braun cut the St. Louis lead down to 5-4. Enter Prince Fielder, stage right. The big fella wasted no time, launching the first pitch from Jaime Garcia into the visitor’s bullpen to give the Brewers a 6-5 lead as Miller Park erupted. The Brewers went on to win 9-6 and take the early series lead over the Cards. A clutch, game changing homer in the NLCS is, without a doubt, an incredible moment.
8. All Star Game MVP (2011)
For many, this would be one of Prince’s most memorable moments as a Brewer, and surely would be higher if Milwaukee had reached the World Series. With the National League going winless in 13 consecutive All Star Games (including the 2002 infamy in Milwaukee), they appeared to be on the same track, down 1-0 in the fourth. That is until Fielder stepped up. Prince connected with a CJ Wilson cutter and drove the ball out of Chase Field in left-center for a three run home run to give the National League the lead. The streak was snapped as the NL ultimately won, 5-1, and Fielder received the Most Valuable Player award for his game-winning homer.
7. One Final Pirate Killing (x3) (2011)
In his second-to-last regular season game as a Brewer, Milwaukee was facing the Pirates. That in itself should say enough. The noted Pirates killer had the best single-game performance of his career. Prince homered not once or twice, but three times. His final moon shot, a 7th inning frozen rope to right off of reliever Jared Hughes, broke a 4-4 tie and gave the Brewers a 6-4 lead. But are we surprised that a homer off the bat of Fielder gave the Crew a late lead? Fielder’s first, a 453 foot shot to Souvenir City in right, was impressive in itself. Add to this another homer in the fifth off the Miller Park scoreboard to give Milwaukee a 4-3 lead and his game-winner in the 7th, and you have the formula for a night when Prince cemented his status as a king of BrewTown.
6a & 6b. Rumble, Prince, Rumble. (2007, ’08)
I’d like to thank the MLB for complaining about copyright infringement and, thus, keeping me from posting YouTube videos for Prince’s two inside-the-park home runs against the Twins and the Blue Jays. BUT, thanks to Mark Zuckerberg and Brew Crew Ball for this video of the 2007 one in Minnesota and of this round-tripper against Toronto in 2008. Seeing Prince chug around the bases for a rare inside-the-parker has to be one of the most memorable moments from his career.
5. One Final Hoorah (2011)
Admittedly, this was one of the saddest moments as a Brewers fan. The culmination of an entire career and the brute face of reality finally faced Brewers faithful everywhere. Trailing 12-6 and almost assuredly on the verge of Playoff elimination, Fielder came to the plate for one last time in the eighth inning. Always a gentleman and understanding the emotion (he would sign with the Angels two months later), Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols called time as Fielder stepped to the plate to let the moment soak in. Tough moment, to say the least.
4. Nifty Fifty (2007)
Fielder became the youngest player in MLB history (then 23) to hit 50 homers in a single season when he blasted two out of Miller Park on September 25, 2007 against the Cardinals. The historic home run came in the seventh inning off of Kip Wells on a no-doubter to left field. He received a standing ovation that evoked emotion and created memories to last. Seeing Prince run around the bases after reaching the milestone that is 50 home runs was simply incredible.
3. “He hit that one to the MOON!” (2009)
At Busch Stadium in July of 2009, against hometown favorites Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard, Fielder beat out former Brewer Nelson Cruz in the final round to win the Home Run Derby. In terms of importance to the Brewers, this moment may have been the least important, but it sure made for one fun night. Watching Fielder dominate the competition–including connecting on a 503-foot blast, the longest of the night, that led to Chris Berman squawking the above quote–while his kids and Braun celebrated was one of Prince’s best moments as a Brewer. Behind 23 home runs, he was crowned champion of the night.
T-1. Final Week Heroics (2008)
Trailing the New York Mets by one game in the final week of the 2008 regular season, with the Mets having already won that night, Prince came up with his most clutch moment as a Brewer. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth and tied 5-5, Fielder launched a walk-off, two run home run to the Toyota Territory in right-center field off (surprise, surprise) Pirates. Clutch. I remember completely erupting in my basement and waking up the entire house when Fielder hit the homer. It launched a simply unforgettable week. Two nights later with a 13 year-old Curt Hogg in attendance, Braun hit a walk off grand slam to beat the Pirates. On the final day of the season, Braun hit a beyond-dramatic go-ahead homer in the eighth against the Cubs as Milwaukee clinched the NL Wild Card.
T-1. Bowling With the Prince (2009)
In what may have been the greatest celebration after a walk off hit ever, Prince and the Brewers created a long-lasting and hilarious memory. On September 6, 2009, Fielder cracked a walk off home run to beat the San Francisco Giants. The homer wasn’t even the most memorable part, as Fielder majestically jumped on home plate and the rest of the Brewers fell down like bowling pins. The Giants didn’t like the move (but who cares?) and Barry Zito plunked Fielder for redemption the next year in Spring Training. The celebration will forever be associated with Prince and his incredible career with the Brewers.
*Thanks, Prince: No. 28’s 28 Most Memorable Moments as a Brewer is the “third inning” in a series of nine posts on An Infectious and Unconditional Love for The Game. Read the first and second posts here.
As we all know, Prince Fielder’s contract is up at the end of this season, making him an unrestricted free agent. He and Albert Pujols are expected to be the top two prized free agents this winter, and the Brewers do not appear to have high hopes of signing him.
With Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, and Yovani Gallardo all inked to long contracts, the money is simply not there to keep Fielder in Milwaukee for years to come. However, there may be a chance for the team to still keep him for another year.
Fielder has come out and said he would like to stay in Milwaukee, but who doesn’t say that about their team at the present? Either way, GM Doug Melvin and owner Mark Attanasio can sit their All Star first baseman down and give him a tempting one-year deal. While other teams may offer around $15-20 million per year for upwards of eight years, the Brewers could afford to pay him more to stay in Milwaukee for one more season before evidently losing him.
Why only go for one year?
The answer is simple; the Brewers have nearly the entire 2011 team returning next season. The rotation of Marcum, Greinke, Gallardo, Wolf, and Narveson will still be in tact. Axford will be back. Braun, Hart, Weeks, Betancourt, Lucroy, McGehee, Morgan, and Gomez will all be back. If the Brewers sell this pitch to Fielder and offer him more for 2012 than the competition, it would be a pretty lucrative deal.