Prince is part of third father/son duo to play for the Tigers

Prince will play the same position his father did with the Tigers.

A lot of children go into the family business. Kids become plumbers, grocers, dentists, even funeral directors because that’s been the family business.

Two presidents have had sons who were also elected president. Politics is a family affair. This election season, Mitt Romney, son of popular Michigan Governor George Romney, is angling for the top political position in the nation.

Sports is a little different. Though children may want to follow their parents’ footsteps into professional athletics, they need to have the natural physical talent to do so. It’s not just a matter of learning dear old dad’s secrets of his lawn care business. It takes skills.

Still, there have been successful father/son duos in baseball. The two most famous and successful have come in the last 25 years: the Griffey’s and Bonds’.

The Tigers have never had a star father/son combo until now. Prince Fielder will wear the Detroit uniform this year, following his father Cecil, who was an All-Star home run champion for the Tigers 20 years ago. The Fielder’s are the third father/son pair to play for Detroit, and the first position players.

In October of 1970, the Tigers swung a big deal with the Washington Senators; trading Denny McLain, Don Wert, and two others for shortstop Eddie Brinkman, third baseman Aurelio Rodriguez, pitcher Jim Hannan, and pitcher Joe Coleman.

Coleman, a right-handed pitcher, was a Jr. – he was the son of pitcher Joe Sr., who spent ten years in the majors, mostly with the Philadelphia Athletics. Joe Sr. won as many as 13 games three times, but was an unremarkable pitcher who suffered on losing teams. In 1954 he had a 3.50 ERA and received an MVP vote while pitching for the lowly Baltimore Orioles and posting a 13-17 record. Little Joe was more successful and fortunate; after being dealt from the terrible Senators, he won 62 games in his first three years with the Tigers, making the All-Star team in 1972. In 1973 he won 23 games. The Coleman’s were the first father/son pair to both play for Detroit.

In 1975 and 1976, Coleman was the teammate of Steve Grilli, a hard-throwing right-handed reliever from Brooklyn. Grilli was never able to perfect the command on his fastball and he was out of baseball after four seasons and 70 games. He spent years after trying to get back and then accepted roles as a pitching coach and instructor, and even a broadcaster.

The older Grilli was still hovering around the game in 1997 when his son Jason was drafted as the fourth overall pick in the 1997 amateur draft by the San Francisco Giants. Much larger and talented than his father, Jason had been a star pitcher at Seton Hall University. He made it to the big leagues first with the Florida Marlins, then bounced to the Chicago White Sox. In 2005 he signed as a free agent with the Tigers and spent parts of four seasons as a reliever in Detroit. He pitched in the 2006 World Series, making him the first son of a former Tiger to appear in the Fall Classic representing the Tigers.

Now, Prince hopes to make it to the post-season and World Series wearing the Old English D, something “Big Daddy” Fielder never did.


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