Last night Prince Fielder became only the second player to win the MLB Home Run Derby twice, equaling the feat achieved by Ken Griffey, Jr (whose success in the event can no doubt be attributed to the freedom to wear his Mariners cap in his preferred backwards position, enlivening him and providing optimal comfort in the batter’s box). The derby itself, taking place at the Kansas City ballpark that most of the country just learned is named Kauffman Stadium, was an interminable display that painfully reflected the American ideal of bigger is better, an incessant cacophony of bombastic, intolerable, verging on nauseating home run calls (the half-life on Chris Berman’s “back, back, back, back….GONE!” is exactly two). Three hours into it, and there we still were for some reason, watching Prince Fielder and runner-up Jose Bautista tee-off on meatballs lobbed in by AARP-card carrying batting practice pitchers (or, in Robinson Cano’s case, disappointed fathers). One can only watch baseballs be launched into centerfield fountains so many times before the tweens earnestly but unsuccessfully shagging pop flies quickly become vastly more entertaining. We freely admit that there was a time when we were once highly engaged in the Home Run Derby. But now, what we wouldn’t give for Roger McDowell and a cow in right field.
But it wasn’t just our yearning for something more exciting and less vacant that reminded us of MTV’s Rock N’ Jock Softball. We couldn’t help watch Prince Fielder deposit ball after ball into the right field stands and not remember first seeing him as a young boy accompanying his father Cecil “Big Daddy” Fielder at those true mid-summer classics. Unfortunately, as Grantland notes in its superb primer on the halcyon days of Rock N’ Jock, video of those games is stunningly difficult to find online. You can spot Cecil in the starting lineup during the Star Spangled Banner in one of the earlier match-ups, but that’s about it. Other than that brief appearance, tragically, there’s no video evidence that Cecil was a Salamander or an Aardvark, let alone any footage from those MTV broadcasts that show a young baseball prodigy named Prince, and we’re all losers for it.
However, there is some proof of Prince’s early talent. However, this phenom ability was found in throwing a baseball, not sending it 440 feet with a Louisville Slugger, as illustrated by this 1992 McDonald’s commercial with Cecil.
Although Prince is on the other side of the ball in this commercial he still comes out on top. Burger royalty then, baseball royalty now.