Should the Milwaukee Brewers honor Prince Fielder by retiring his number?
By: Billy Tewes
Last week’s announcement that Prince Fielder will be retiring from baseball due to his second neck surgery brought back a lot of memories from the days I grew up as a sports junkie in high school. Nearly ten years ago was the first time I attended Brewers’ games as a young adult, and it was also around that time that the trio of Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun were maturing into three key pieces to a potential playoff run for the Milwaukee Brewers and put them on the map as unlikely contender after 25 years of missing the playoffs.
It was Fielder that made a massive impact and sent this fan base into a frenzy every time he was at bat. It was conceivable to think he could crush the ball right out of Miller Park at any given at bat or at the very least drive in some runs in exciting fashion. His best years were 2007 and 2009 respectively. In 07, he launched 50 homers and put his name out as a dynamic player who could be MVP material (finished 3rd in MVP voting that year). Just two years later, Fielder batted .300 and drove in 141 runs. While Fielder never won an MVP, he consistently batted over .275 and was a dynamic power threat in the lineup every night.
His best years definitely came in Milwaukee and the team got their money’s worth with Fielder playing damn near every game from 2006-2011. Fielder missed a total of 13 games over a span of those six years (per Baseball-Reference), which seems extremely unlikely for a player of his caliber and size to achieve in Major League baseball these days. Perhaps that was part of his untimely demise, as all of the years of violent swinging and playing so many games finally took its toll.
Prince Fielder personified much of what many Wisconsin sports fans value in professional athletes. Fielder’s sound work ethic and dedication to his craft made him likable to many of Wisconsin’s blue collar citizens. While former teammate Ryan Braun sullied the Milwaukee Brewers franchise with his antics and PED usage, it was Fielder who consistently gave Brewers fans something to be proud of for the time that he was with the team.
I cannot hide the fact that as a fan, I was upset when Fielder left Milwaukee. The selfish side of me wanted Prince to stay here at a hometown discount and keep our team relevant in playoff talks. When he left, I selfishly wished he would do poorly with the Detroit Tigers, but that frustration was obviously misplaced. Fielder went on to have a couple of great years with the Tigers and Rangers and will hopefully be welcomed home with open arms.
While the Brewers franchise could not get to the World Series and as a small market, could not afford to keep both Braun and Fielder, it is safe to say the city of Milwaukee was extremely lucky to have great player like Prince Fielder to cheer for in the prime of his career. From the no-doubt-about-it homers, to the unlikely in the park home runs, all the way to his orchestrated big splash walk off celebration against the San Francisco Giants, it’s safe to say Prince Fielder has, at the very least, cemented his legacy as one of Milwaukee’s all-time greats and is most definitely deserving of having his number retired by the organization.
all statistics are courtesy of baseball-reference.com.