On this date 25 years ago, Cecil Fielder returned to the Majors to crush home runs
25 yrs ago, Cecil Fielder returned to MLB to hit HRs
Despite showing prodigious power as a prospect, Cecil Fielder struggled to earn playing time with the Blue Jays. From 1985 to '88, Fielder received 558 plate appearances, roughly the equivalent of one full season. In that time, he hit 31 home runs with a .243/.308/.472 batting line.
After being purchased by the Hanshin Tigers before the '89 season, Fielder took his 6-foot-3, 230-pound-on-a-good-day frame to Japan. All he did there was hit 38 home runs in 106 games.
Naturally, that helped boost his stock stateside, especially as the leading home run hitter in the American League that season was Fred McGriff with 36.
So a year later, on Jan. 15, 1990, Fielder returned to the Tigers for $1.25 million, 10 times the size of his contract when he left in '88. Once back in the big leagues, the big-boned Fielder became the first Major Leaguer since George Foster in '77 to hit 50 home runs when he led the Majors with 51 dingers and 132 RBIs.
Fielder also had two three-home run games that season, including this one on June 6 against the Indians:
These weren't any cheap shots, either. He sent them to the opposite right field, center field and left field.
In August, Fielder then became just the third player to clear the roof at Tiger Stadium when he launched this Interstellar-esque cross-dimensional rocket.
After finishing second in the MVP voting, Fielder would experience some serious deja vu the next season. In '91, Fielder again came in second for the MVP, this time after tying for the Major League home run title with 44 bombs and a league-leading 133 RBIs.
Having already knocked one out of Tiger Stadium, this time he decided to crush a pitch completely out of Milwaukee County Stadium:
Fielder would retire in 1998, finishing with 319 home runs and 1,008 RBIs. Given Fielder's size and strength, those numbers are not surprising. What is surprising is that Fielder stole two bags -- both coming in 1996 when he was already 32 years old.
The first came on April 2. With the Twins apparently not worried about the man with zero steals in over 4,000 plate appearances, Fielder barreled his way down to second base. Given that Fielder appears to turn into a literal freight train as he slides into the bag, it's possible that he was less of a man and more of a baseball-bashing Transformer.
I'm not sure what the best part is -- Fielder's joy after stealing the bag or the fact that he received such hearty applause from the crowd. This is heartwarming television at its finest.
Of course, Fielder was also an amazing golfer, too. Can't imagine there is any camera trickery going on here: