MILWAUKEE -- Prince Fielder, the Brewers’ single-season home run king who helped lift the franchise back to contention in the late 2000s, will receive the club’s highest honor when he is inducted to the Walk of Fame at American Family Field next summer.
The team made that announcement on Thursday while also saying Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy would be inducted to the Brewers Wall of Honor, and that the late Wes Covington would be inducted to the Milwaukee Braves Wall of Honor outside the stadium. Covington was to be added in 2020, but his induction has been delayed by the pandemic.
Details of those ceremonies will be announced at a later date.
The headliner is Fielder, Milwaukee’s first-round Draft pick in 2003. He was best known then as the son of former Major League slugger Cecil Fielder but soon made his own name in the game, setting a then-franchise rookie record with 28 home runs in 2006 before smashing 50 home runs in ’07, a Brewers record. At 23 years and 139 days old, he was the youngest player ever to reach that milestone, breaking a record held by Hall of Famer Willie Mays.
And Fielder kept hitting. In 2008 he hit 34 home runs with 102 RBIs while teaming with Braun and midseason acquisition CC Sabathia to lead the Brewers to their first postseason berth in 26 years. In ’09 Fielder played all 162 games, hit 46 homers and led the Majors with 141 RBIs. He again played all 162 games in his final season in Milwaukee in ’11, when Fielder set a career-high with a .415 on-base percentage, hit 38 home runs with 120 RBIs and helped the Brewers win their first division title since 1982.
Fielder, who went on to play for the Tigers and Rangers before a neck injury prematurely ended his career, is the Brewers’ all-time leader in on-base percentage (.390), slugging percentage (.540) and OPS (.929) and is among the franchise leaders in home runs (third, 230), walks (fourth, 566), extra-base hits (sixth, 439), RBIs (seventh, 656), total bases (eighth, 1,904) and runs (ninth, 571). He is the only player in franchise history to produce five straight seasons of 30-plus home runs.
“He swung hard, he played hard and he played every day,” said former Brewers pitcher Ben Sheets. “He had some energy.”
“Prince was different than any other,” said Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman, a Brewers teammate in 2009 and ‘10. “He was bigger than life, and yet he wanted to be anonymous. He wanted to blend into the wallpaper. He showed up every day, he worked at his craft, he enjoyed his teammates. I think he was probably at his happiest playing here.”
Hoffman added, “Toughness probably personified him. And that toughness rubbed off on teammates.”
The Brewers Walk of Fame commemorates some of the greatest names in Milwaukee baseball history with a granite-shaped home plate set in the ground outside of American Family Field. Fielder will be the 21st inductee since the Walk of Fame was established in 2001, and the first since Geoff Jenkins in 2018.
Members of the Walk of Fame are elected by Wisconsin media members and Brewers executives.
The Walk of Fame is separate from the Wall of Honor, which recognizes players, coaches and executives who meet a set of criteria based on service to the organization and career accomplishments. Braun and Lucroy will join the permanent exhibit with a bronze plaque affixed to the exterior of the ballpark commemorating their contributions.
Braun, another first-round pick and the Brewers’ all-time home run leader, was a six-time All-Star and five-time Silver Slugger Award winner who won the 2007 National League Rookie of the Year Award and the 2011 NL MVP Award. He played his entire 14-year Major League career with the Brewers from 2007-20 and is among the franchise leaders in nearly every offensive category, including home runs (352), RBIs (second, 1,154), slugging percentage (second, .532), OPS (second, .891), extra-base hits (second, 809), total bases (second, 3,525), doubles (second, 408), runs (third, 1,080), hits (third, 1,963), triples (third, 49), stolen bases (third, 216), at-bats (third, 6,622) and walks (third, 586).
He eventually will be eligible for the Walk of Fame but must be retired for five years before he’s eligible. Braun formally announced his retirement in September.
Lucroy, drafted by Milwaukee in 2007, spent seven seasons with the Brewers from 2010-16 and was a two-time All-Star. He led the Majors in doubles in 2014 with 53, including 46 of them while in a game as the catcher, the most by a catcher in a single season in AL/NL history. Lucroy finished fourth in National League Most Valuable Player voting that season, making him the first catcher in franchise history to finish in the top 10. He ranks first in franchise history as a catcher in hits (752), batting average (.288), doubles (143), home runs (77), RBIs (358), and runs (326). He is second in games caught (725).