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Another slugger coming with good bloodlines

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By HUBERT MIZELL, Times Sports Columnist

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 24, 2002


Ken Griffey was a good Cincinnati outfielder. Junior is far better. Bobby Bonds hit lots of homers for San Francisco, but not nearly so many as son Barry.

Now comes a kid called Prince, offspring of oversized, overpowering ex-Tigers slugger Cecil Fielder. At 17, the high school senior has 250-pound bulk and a hammering swing that has baseball scouts wondering if high father/son dramatics might come in threes.

With both Griffeys having worn Reds uniforms, while Bonds guys share Giants history, it figures the Tigers would have the first professional pinch on Prince Fielder's heart.

Invited to camp at Lakeland a few weeks ago, the titanic teen had the wide-bodied clobber look of papa Cecil, hitting eight batting practice balls over the fence, including two at a 410-foot marker.

Just last week, I asked, "Whatever happened to Cecil Fielder?" Florida Today columnist Peter Kerasotis was quick with a family update. He retired to a Space Coast mansion and his favorite sport now is watching 6-footer Prince play for Eau Gallie High School.

In his prep career, young Fielder -- a first baseman, like dad -- has popped 32 home runs. This season, Prince is batting .421 and, though Cecil's boy has signed to play college baseball at Arizona State, it's a stout bet he'll opt to go straight to the MLB bank.

DINGERS: Too bad we're not Shaq O'Neal pals, because he hires private jets to ferry buddies to Nevada, picking up $50,000 tabs for a week of hotel rooms, keeping $60,000 in his deep NBA pockets for personal gambling and has frequently spent $200,000 for a Vegas Strip week; so now the 7-foot-1 hoops Hercules has decided to buy teammate Brian Shaw's home in Las Vegas, saying it's "being a good businessman." ... Nancy Lopez grew up in Roswell, N.M., where in 1947 people reported seeing a flying saucer. "One time, a lady walked up to me there and began staring," said the grand, gracious LPGA golfer. "She asked, "Are you an alien?' I told her no, that my heritage was Mexican." ... Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, unable to find NBA coaching work, signed up for the basketball boonies with the Oklahoma Storm of the USBL. Big Fella asked his mentor, UCLA legend John Wooden, for advice. "First words out of his mouth was that the game today is dramatically overcoached; that it should be about five guys on a team reacting to each other."

NICKNAMES: With the Southern Illinois Salukis marching unexpectedly well through basketball madness, a unique nickname becomes more imbedded in America's consciousness.

But the reservoir of the NCAA/NAIA rare runs deep, with schools that identify themselves as Banana Slugs, Judges, Poets, Prophets and Blue Hose among 500-plus nicknames.

Like, uh, the "Eutectic." That singular tag hangs on athletes from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy. Webster defines Eutectic as "fusing at the lowest possible temperature."

Cool.

Then there's Rhode Island College, where jocks should be required to wear fancy neckties, have teeth capped and load up on hair spray. They're called "Anchormen."

DINKS: How huge for David Duval, getting a major-championship gorilla off his back by winning last year's British Open. So where does the Florida chap keep one of golf's most renowned prizes, the Claret Jug? In his trophy case? Nope. Bank vault? Nyet. Girlfriend's house? Nah. It's out in the open for Double-D's neighbors to see, sitting on the pro-shop counter at Pablo Creek, his home course in (oh, yeah) Duval County. ... Protectors of British honor are feigning concern, seeing U.S. colt Zippy Chippy fail to win in a 92nd consecutive race, knowing record books list an English nag, Quixall Crossett, as the all-time nonwinner with 103 in a row. ... Hal McRae will nod at this, along with Joe Torre and Tony La Russa: "You're at the mercy of your players," said Dusty Baker of the Giants. "You can do everything right as a manager and things might not work out; or you can do just about everything wrong and your players can bail you out."

Whatever happened to John Candelaria?

-- To reach Hubert Mizell, e-mail mmizell02@earthlink.net or mail to P.O. Box 726, Nellysford, VA 22958.

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