Quick, think of a few baseball players you'd think ESPN The Magazine would invite to pose nude in their annual Body Issue.
Anybody say Prince Fielder?
Well, surprise, surprise, the Texas Rangers first baseman is the lone MLB player featured in this year's Body Issue, which featured Mets ace Matt Harvey a year ago. This year's list, announced Wednesday, also includes swimmer Michael Phelps, NFL running back Marshawn Lynch, NBA power forward Serge Ibaka and numerous others. Venus Williams was previously announced as one of the headliners of this year's issue (out July 11).
The Body Issue features tasteful nude photography of athletes and their physiques. It's been dubbed ESPN The Mag's "annual celebration of the athletic form." Said Chad Millman, the mag's editor in chief, in a release: "It inhabits our mission to pay tribute to these athletes' bodies and all they are capable of."
ESPN hasn't always recruited just the most chiseled athletes around. It's made an effort to feature all body types. Golfer Gary Player posed for the issue at 77 years old. Beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh Jennings posed eight months pregnant. Last year, however, NFL rookie A.J. Francis spoke up, saying, "You need a fat guy." ESPN apparently thought so too.
Fielder, of course, is one of the heftier players in baseball. He's listed at 275 pounds and has sometimes been ridiculed for his size. Prince is big, just like his dad was, but his body had always been durable until a recent neck injury sidelined him for the 2014 season. Prior to that, he played in 547 consecutive games.
Kudos to ESPN for inviting a player whose body doesn't fit the stereotype for this sort of thing, and even more kudos to Fielder for having the self-confidence to strip down and show it off.
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