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Prince Fielder, Cecil Fielder and the significance of family

Jan 25, 2012, 8:17 AM EDT

Prince Fielder Cecil Fielder

Cecil Fielder was making the media rounds yesterday following his son’s signing with the Detroit Tigers. It was understandable given his own history in Detroit.

Thing is, Cecil and Prince have a very complicated history and, in recent years, have been reported to have no relationship at all. The whole story is known only to them, but the contours of it seem to be that (a) Cecil was not an attentive father to Prince when he was growing up; (b) his relationship with Prince’s mother was not good; and (c) Cecil is alleged to have squandered Prince’s signing bonus on personal debts.  Kind of ugly all around.

Cecil was quoted several years ago as saying that Prince had shut him out of his life. Prince, when asked, will not respond to any questions about his father.  Yesterday, however, Cecil had this to say about the relationship:

“We’re having a few chats. We’re doing a lot better than we were. Time heals all wounds, man. Everybody has to come back together at some point.”

It’s a difficult subject. On the one hand it’s the kind of thing that shouldn’t be any of our business. But it’s been out there because, in the past, Cecil put it out there in interviews and, of course, because both of the Fielders are well-known public figures. And of course now that Prince has gone to the team with which his father found his biggest fame, it’s going to come up a lot more simply because it’s part of a new and wholly understandable dynastic narrative.

Outside of that (and outside of baseball, actually) the subject fascinates me because of what it says about the value and purpose of family.

I have a great relationship with my parents. It’s never been in question because I had a great childhood and they’re good people and all of that.  But at the same time, I don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea that you have to make a special effort to have such a relationship with family members no matter the situation. If your parents (or siblings or whatever) are jerks or bad people or have otherwise hurt you, I don’t see the need to try any harder to repair that relationship than you would to repair a friendship or another kind of acquaintance. Or to simply not try at all if that’s your choice.

Yet I feel like I’m in the minority here. I think most people default to the “but they’re family,” idea, and believe it to be incumbent upon a person to always — eventually anyway — try to repair such relationships. And think that a difficult or flawed relationship with a family member is better than no relationship at all.

I can’t see that. Sure, if a family member with whom you’ve had a falling out wants to try and make amends you give that person the same chance that you’d give someone else, but I don’t think you give them considerably more chances or, even further, continue to try to reach out to them out of obligation even if they continue to be a jerk out of some notion that shared blood makes the relationship so much more necessary.

I’m not saying I’m right. I may be very wrong. And like I said before, I have a wonderful relationship with my family so perhaps I’m just taking it all for granted and I’m totally missing the point. I’m curious to hear others’ thoughts.

Anyway, the point of all of this is that I don’t see a father-son reconciliation as some necessary component of Prince Fielder going to Detroit. And, even though it would be nicer if the two of them had a good relationship than a poor one, I hope that Prince doesn’t get pestered too much about it by virtue of the public’s need to seek closure or resolution of a relationship that, by all rights, shouldn’t concern us.

  1. teedraper - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    I don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea that you have to make a special effort to have such a relationship with family members no matter the situation. If your parents (or siblings or whatever) are jerks or bad people or have otherwise hurt you, I don’t see the need to try any harder to repair that relationship than you would to repair a friendship or another kind of acquaintance. Or to simply not try at all if that’s your choice.
    ——————————————————

    Thanks God black people DO
    NOT think this way. In black households FAMILY is all you have & it’s best to be at PEACE with your family bc there are too many other battles for us to fight outside of them.

    You are a SAD SAD SAD dude! I feel sorry for you!

    • motorcaster57 - Oct 12, 2012 at 1:58 AM

      I don’t know who you think you are to be telling anybody what is right or wrong… Family can be important to white black and green people.. But when it is toxic, you don’t owe them anything. If it is best for Prince to keep his distance, he knows best as we don’t even know the story or the dynamic.. It sounds to me like you are a sad dude.

  2. baileyjb - Jan 26, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    When Cecil played for the Angels, they were my neighbors. Cecil was one of the nicest, most down to earth people I have ever meet. He was gone quite a bit because he was playing out of town games. The family seemed to get along just fine. Of course no one knows what goes on behind closed doors, but when I was around them, they were great. Cecil’s wife Stacy was pretty quiet and so was Prince, who was 14 at the time. Their daughter Cecilyn was very outgoing.
    At the time they owned a huge home in Florida. The family could have stayed there for the season, but wanted to be together.
    I know that Cecil got into a terrible place with his gambling after his playing days were over. I think that was the big downfall with the family. I do know that Cecilyn lived with Cecil at least part of the time after the divorce, so she must not have thought that Cecil was a bad father.
    I wish both Prince and Cecil the best of luck and I hope they can someday forgive each other and have a good relationship.

  3. motorcaster57 - Oct 12, 2012 at 2:05 AM

    Fathers and sons always have difficult relationships.. It’s part of life. There is usually love that come from a father to a son but there is also competition, especially in a family that excels in athletics or business…. Clearly, a tough situation exist here for the Fielders and I hope it works its way through to find the bond again. I would encourage Prince to do what he has to do for him. When his parents brought him into this world, they take on certain responsibility to move their children toward individuation and not to become dependent on their kids. It is nice when the kids can help their parents though the difficult time in their later years.. But I expect I would not feel good towards my dad if he had needed my money away..

  4. motorcaster57 - Oct 12, 2012 at 2:06 AM

    Fathers and sons always have difficult relationships.. It’s part of life. There is usually love that come from a father to a son but there is also competition, especially in a family that excels in athletics or business…. Clearly, a tough situation exist here for the Fielders and I hope it works its way through to find the bond again. I would encourage Prince to do what he has to do for him. When his parents brought him into this world, they take on certain responsibility to move their children toward individuation and not to become dependent on their kids. It is nice when the kids can help their parents though the difficult time in their later years.. But I expect I would not feel good towards my dad if he had needed my money to repay gambling debts….

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