Fielder reaches 50 HRs as Brewers power past Cardinals 9-1
MILWAUKEE (AP)—Prince Fielder didn’t really want to keep his 50th home run ball as a souvenir.
The one he really wants is No. 52. And while he’s at it, he wouldn’t mind winning an MVP award—all in the name of sticking it to his estranged father.
And he isn’t kidding.
“No,” Fielder said. “That’s serious.”
Fielder’s reaction to becoming the youngest player ever to hit 50 homers in a season—a feat he accomplished with two home runs in the Milwaukee Brewers’ 9-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday—provided a telling glimpse into his fractured relationship with his father, former major leaguer Cecil Fielder.
Fielder said he wants to hit 52 homers in a season and win the MVP because his father never accomplished either. Doing that, Prince Fielder said, would “shut him up.”
“That’s why I’m so passionate about playing,” Fielder said. “I don’t mind them comparing me, but I’m totally a different player. Hopefully one day, whenever they mention my name, they won’t have to mention his.”
Fielder’s feats overshadowed the fact that the Brewers drew within two games of the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central—and Brewers owner Mark Attanasio’s assertion that manager Ned Yost doesn’t have to worry about his job for next season.
With a two-run homer run to right field in the first inning and a two-run homer to left in the seventh, Fielder surpassed Willie Mays to become the youngest player ever to hit 50.
Mays was 24 years, 137 days old when he hit his 50th home run in 1955, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Fielder is 23 years, 139 days old.
“It’s just an awesome feat,” Fielder said. “Now my kids can know at one time, their dad was pretty good.”
And family clearly is important to Fielder.
Prince is guarded about the reasons behind the split with his father, who hit 51 home runs for Detroit in 1990. According to a 2004 story by The Detroit News, Cecil Fielder frittered away his baseball earnings through gambling and bad business decisions.
Cecil has been more outspoken. At a Toronto Blue Jays alumni event in June, Cecil said his son should show him more respect.
“I just don’t think my son knows how to let it go,” Cecil Fielder said. “I don’t think he’s grown up yet. Until he can move on and talk to me like he’s my son, we don’t need to talk.”
Fielder said he wasn’t offended by any one particular comment from his father—but then made it clear that he has been paying attention to his father’s public comments.
“You’ve got to look at who’s saying it,” Fielder said. “Let’s be honest, he’s not really the brightest guy.”
On the suddenly more pleasant topic of the division race, Fielder said the Brewers still hope to surpass Chicago. With their 4-2 loss at Florida on Tuesday, the Cubs are only two games ahead of Milwaukee.
Fielder admitted he was looking up at the scoreboard.
“You take peeks, because that’s what it’s up there for, to look at,” Fielder said. “But really, that’s out of our control anyway.”
Yost said he was focused on the division race, too—and not his job status for next year. The manager has drawn criticism from Brewers fans after the team blew its 8 1/2 -game lead in June, but the team’s principal owner said in several interviews on Tuesday that Yost didn’t have to worry.
“Ned is fine,” Attanasio told The Associated Press, declining to elaborate.
“We’re in the middle of a pennant race right now and that’s all I care about,” Yost said.
But Yost certainly appreciated Fielder’s piece of history—and told the rest of the young Brewers that they should, too.
“It was a great thrill,” Yost said. “I told the boys, ‘We’re watching a little history here. Remember it.”’
Brewers starter Jeff Suppan (11-12) worked eight innings to beat his former team for the third time this year.
“He knows what he’s doing,” Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds said. “Even when it looks like there’s a chance to do something, he’s still in control. He’s a big game pitcher.”
Suppan said Fielder shows so much maturity in the Brewers’ clubhouse that it’s easy to forget how young he is.
“I think the age thing never really donned on me,” Suppan said. “He’s the type of player, you don’t even look at his age until after the fact and you say, ‘Wow, he’s only 23 years old.”’
Albert Pujols started his second straight game at first base for the Cardinals despite a lingering left calf muscle strain. Pujols was 2-for-3 with a walk, and still needs one more RBI to become the first player to reach 100 in his first seven seasons.
Braden Looper (12-12) gave up three home runs in five innings to take the loss.
RHP Ben Sheets threw a 35-pitch bullpen session Tuesday, but still had some discomfort in his strained left hamstring, manager Ned Yost said. The team still has not decided whether he will start Friday night against San Diego. … C Johnny Estrada could be available for pinch-hitting despite having a torn medial meniscus in his left knee, Yost said.