Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 1/24/12
Prince Fielders relationship with his father, Cecil, might be strained beyond the breaking point, but the two men have followed a similar path in baseball. Its a money trail -- from Tigers owner Mike Ilitchs checkbook to their bank vaults. The Fielders are big men who hit big home runs and signed mega-million contracts with the Tigers. It was Princes turn on Tuesday. He stunned the baseball world by signing a 9-year, 214-million deal with the Tigers, who had never been mentioned as serious bidders for Prince when he hit the free-agent market after seven seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers. In 1993, Cecil Fielder set the salary standard going into his fourth season with the Tigers by signing a five-year, 36-million deal. That made Cecil baseballs highest-paid player for the last three seasons of the contract, when his base salary was 9,237,500 for each season. Inflation and the upward spiral of contracts have combined to put Prince in an income level that dwarfs what his dad signed for two decades ago. In fact, Cecils 36 million deal wouldnt pay the federal income tax on Princes contract. According to a prominent financial planner who spoke on the issue Tuesday, the maximum rate of a taxpayer in Princes bracket is 38 percent. That means he could pay 81.3 million in federal tax on the gross value of the contract, before deductions -- more than double Cecils contract. Could Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney be available for tax advice? Before their relationship turned to ice, Cecil and Prince Fielder made for one of the warmest stories in sports as an example of a son following in his fathers footsteps to build a career in baseball. Prince was a regular around old Tiger Stadium. As a pre-teenager growing up in Grosse Pointe Farms he was a legend for hitting mammoth home runs. Ben Burns, the former managing editor of The Detroit News and director of Wayne State Universitys journalism department, has vivid memories of Princes home-run power as a Little League player. Burns managed a team that competed in the same league as Princes team. He was huge, and he could hit the ball over the fence, Burns recalled. Everybody else was dribbling singles and an occasional double. Prince hit the ball over the fence with alarming regularity. When he was 9 years old, he looked like he was 13 or 14. In a game with a playoff appearance at stake, Burns remembers ordering his son, James, to walk Prince with one out left in the game. After the first ball, the opposing manager protested, but there was no rule against pitching around Prince. After four wide ones, the next hitter grounded out, and Burns kids were in the playoffs. Inflation hasnt made its only impact on salaries for the Fielders. Prince is physically bigger -- 5-11 and 275 pounds compared to Cecils listed height and weight of 6-3 and 230. Prince has a career batting average of .282, reaching .299 twice -- in 2009 and 2011. Cecils career average was .255. Neither man is known for speed. Prince has 10 career stolen bases to two for Cecil -- both in 1996. Cecil had a high of 51 home runs in 1990, his first season with the Tigers. Prince has a high of 50 homers in 07.
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