An Open Letter to Prince Fielder

Dear Prince,

I feel for your situation right now. It must be hard to not only work through the details and dynamics of a divorce but to do so under the scrutiny of the public eye. I’m sure the fact that you and your ex-wife-to-be have kids won’t make it any easier on you.

The pressure on you to step up to the plate this past playoff season with Miggy on the limp and hobble had to be an enormous weight on your shoulders. Coupled with the personal drama between you and your wife, I can’t imagine how you stepped up to the plate: pitch after pitch, inning after inning, day after day.

Peter Markus, Open Letter to Prince Fielder
Oct 8 2013 Detroit MI USA Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder 28 reacts at bat against the Oakland Athletics in game four of the American League divisional series at Comerica Park Rick Osentoski USA TODAY Sports

I always liked that about you (the Cal Ripken Jr. in you, the Lou Gehrig in you). Who needs a day off, who needs rest, when you’re doing what you love?

It’s no secret that there are a lot of pissed off fans in Detroit right now. We’re pissed off because, in a blue-collar town like ours, when we don’t show up for our jobs we often don’t have a job to show up to. I know you don’t have to worry about that.

It was hard to see you battle, hard to watch you swing, hips hitchy and off-balance at pitches armpit-high and a foot off the outside of the plate. I was pulling for you, Prince. I kept on saying that “Today is the day that Prince breaks out and has himself a game.” It never happened. The shower (sans champagne) came eleven days early.

I only wished you hadn’t said some of the things that you said. Most of us have got kids. I’ve got kids. I know what that’s like. There’s a lot of pressure to be a good dad. I’m sure you’re a good dad, a good provider, a man who wants to be a good example. But the fact is, Prince, you didn’t get the job done. Period. All you had to say, after the fact, was that you didn’t get the job done, that there’s no one in the world more disappointed than you.

But instead you threw the fans, some of who booed (I’m sorry if your feelings were hurt by such sounds), under the bus when you said, “If they could do It, they would play.

That’s all very true, Prince. There’s a shit-load of factory workers in this city, hundreds of whom are laid off, others who are stuck in the middle of a 30-year sentence working the line, who’d love to stay a child and play baseball for a living. For work. That’s right: work. It’s what we do in this city. Or as the poem goes, “If you’re old enough to read this, you know what work is.”

Here’s what I tell my own two kids. When you miss, when you fall down, you dust yourself off, get back up, dig in for whatever is about to come next.

Just remember: in this city we show up for work. We punch clocks. Some of us raise back hammers. A lucky few—one in a million—get to swing bats at balls.

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Peter Markus
In his junior year of high school, Peter Markus threw a no-hitter. By the end of his senior year, he could barely lift his arm. So he picked up a pencil and began his new life as a writer. He is the author of the novel Bob, or Man on Boat, as well as three books of short fiction, the most recent of which is We Make Mud.