After weeks of watching classic Tigers games on television and online, it’s time for a change of pace. Take a break to watch Prince Fielder pepper Kauffman Stadium’s water fountains with home run balls.
Fielder won the 2009 event at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. He was a Brewers slugger back then, but he was nonetheless known as the kid who hit balls into the seats at Tiger Stadium while taking batting practice with his dad, slugger Cecil Fielder, or then-Tigers coach Terry Francona. Cecil Fielder took part in the Home Run Derby in 1993, losing out to Griffey.
As the younger Fielder powered one tape-measure drive after another into the right-field fountains, including a seven-homer outburst in eight swings in the final round, his childhood didn’t seem that long ago. While some hitters don’t like the Home Run Derby, fearing it messes with their game swing, Fielder relished it.
“Especially when you have kids, when you see your kids having a good time and seeing how much they enjoy it, you have a good time as well,” Prince Fielder said at the time.
He made the 2012 event a family affair, bringing sons Jadyn and Haven along to Kansas City along with his wife. He also brought back Brewers hitting coordinator Sandy Guerrero, who pitched to him when he won the Derby in 2009.
They needed a little while to regain their old timing. Fielder was the last slugger to advance out of the opening round. Two of his drives fell just shy at the fence.
“When they let us in the second round, we had a chance,” Guerrero said that night, “because it takes him a little bit to get the timing down. But I noticed at the end [of the first round], his timing was going good."
Fielder hit 11 home runs in the second round, many of them soaring high into the Kauffman Stadium backdrop before splashing into the fountains. He hit a 476-foot drive into the upper-level fountains in right-fielder, a 464-foot drive into the upper-deck fountains in right and a 461-foot drive to the same area.
The show continued in the finals, where Fielder homered seven times before he made his second out. He finished with 28 homers on the night, nearly doubling his home run total with the Tigers heading into the All-Star break (15). He easily beat Blue Jays slugger José Bautista.
Fielder hit 55 home runs over his two-year Tiger tenure before being traded to Texas after the 2013 season for Ian Kinsler. His Tigers homecoming was relatively brief, but moments like the Derby made it eventful.