Wednesday, September 21, 2005

September 21st, 1963

Cecil Fielder Born

Cecil Fielder, who as Bill James put it "acknowledges a weight of 261, leaving unanswered the question of what he might weigh if he put his other foot on the scale," was a hulking slugger for, primarily, the Tigers in the nineties. In 1990, after a season in Japan Fielder returned to the Majors and promptly hit fifty-one home runs making look rather stupid the Toronto Blue Jays who had sold him to Japan in '88, and for whom the difference between Fielder and John Olerud as their DH might've made up the two games they finished behind Boston in the AL East.

Anyway, Fielder never topped fifty again although he did remain one of the AL's elite home-run hitters for a while, leading the league with forty-four in 1991 and finishing in the top ten three other times. I write about him today, however, for something he almost never did: steal bases. Fielder failed to steal a base until 1996, after ten part or whole seasons in the Major Leagues. His first stolen base wasn't even a "true" steal; on a failed hit-and-run the catcher's throw, which had Fielder easily, bounced off his helmet and trickled into center field. Improbably, the Metrodome official scorer ruled it a stolen base and Cecil--he of three hundred nineteen home runs, eighty-eighth all time--had his first swiped bag ever.

(By the way, the current Cecil Fielder, big guy, no steals--albeit not as good a power hitter--is
Minnesota's Matt LeCroy, who has as many steals as you and me: zero.)

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