"It's an emotional day for the entire baseball community; emotional day all around." - Texas Rangers Manager Jeff Banister on the retirement of Prince Fielder
What started out as an incredible career for 32 year old Prince Fielder came to an emotional, and very unlikely end on August 10th, 2016. When Fielder first made his way to the big leagues, health was arguably his biggest attribute, and in fact played in 547 consecutive games at one point. There was not a single brain in the entire baseball world, whether fan, front office member, baseball writer, or baseball executive who would have guessed Fielder would see such an early end to his career, due to injury no less. Fielder was a beloved player by fans and teammates, and this truly is one of the hardest goodbyes baseball has had to say in recent memory.
"It was tough, man. I was holding back tears the whole time. To go out there like Prince has done his whole career and compete on a daily basis at an extremely high level shows his love for the game." - 2016 Teammate Ian Desmond
"I'm in debt to him, for sure. What he's meant to me and my family, that's just helped me that much more. It just shows how selfless he is and how much of a team player and how much of a leader he was in here." - 2014-2016 Teammate Mitch Moreland
"He's one of our brothers. He always will be, regardless if he's playing or not. We wanted to take care of him. We support everybody in this clubhouse like they're family." - 2014-2016 Teammate Elvis Andrus
"It stinks. I like Prince. He's been a great player. He's a great ambassador for the game, and I've really enjoyed my time with him. You never want to see a player end his career that way, when it's not his decision. He took a lot of pride in taking the field each and every day and going out there and producing and trying to help the team win. I think the one memory that sticks out, the visual imagery, is when we clinched to go to the playoffs and he was just kind of standing there holding his hands up at first base, That's just kind of him. I think, as a person in the clubhouse, he was a good teammate. He was always kind of fun and joking and loved to smile and just have a good time." - 2012-2013 Teammate Justin Verlander
"I'm sad, the game never lets anybody go when they completely want to, but for somebody like him, he should still be in the middle of a great career. It's sad that it has to happen like that. Our thoughts go out to him. Prince was a player who probably taught me as much as any player about the game.The way he played, the way he thought. Quite honestly, with him being a young African-American player, he taught me a lot about that, what that feels like. I'm a huge fan of the guy, man. I learned so much from him about baseball, about life. He watched hitting as well as anybody I've ever seen, the way he picked apart players, hitters, pitchers. I really valued my time with him, and I'm really saddened by this news. This is not the way it should end for him. Playing every day like he did, I don't think it's always a physical test, it was a mental toughness test that Prince was able to pass every day. He just decided he was going to play. The physical stuff didn't matter. He just decided: 'I'm going to play.' What I admired about that streak was not that he was physically able; it was that mentally he decided to do it."- 2007-2011 Teammate Craig Counsell
"It's sad. It's heartbreaking for him. I'm sure it's a devastating thing for him and his family, It's tough for us to see it. Obviously, he was here for a long time and had such a tremendous impact on this organization. He played so hard and competed so hard every day. It's just a very difficult thing to watch his career come to an end like this. I remember how hard he competed. I think he played the game as hard and competed as hard as anybody I ever had on my team. He's a guy who never wanted to come out of any game, played through so many injuries, wanted to play every inning of every game. For a guy of his build, it was incredibly impressive. He ran every ground ball out, just really played the game hard and it was something that everybody else on the team fed off of." 2007-2011 Teammate Ryan Braun
Fielder's goodbye was the only thing more emotional than his great career that will have him stapled into the history books in Milwaukee forever. Not only did Fielder have a great career statistically, but he made himself known as one of the best human beings in baseball. Fielder was never afraid to show his emotion on the field, which was more often than not his ear-to-ear smile that showed how much baseball truly meant to him and his family. Out of Prince's 319 HR, 230 were hit in a Brewer uniform, which ranks third in franchise history. Prince was a six-time All-star, two-time Homerun Derby champ, won three Silver Slugger Awards, one Hank Aaron award, one Comeback Player of the Year award, and was the 2011 All-star game MVP. Due to his career being cut short by injury, Fielder will almost without a doubt miss out on the call to Cooperstown, but had he been able to play longer he more than likely would have wound up forever cemented in the list of baseball's greatest.