Finding Your Passion After Sports: Prince Fielder

One of the ways to cope with your career transition according to the IOC is to find something besides your sport that you are passionate about. In the case of former big league slugger Prince Fielder, he did just that. He discussed his new passion in an article with SportsDay.

After a 12-year MLB career in which he had a .283 batting average, 319 home runs and 1028 runs batted in, one would think that his transition to life away from baseball would be very challenging. Especially considering he had literally grown up around the game. His father, Cecil, played in the MLB for 13 years in which he too hit 319 home runs. When Cecil played for Detroit, Prince would frequently take batting practice with the big leaguers. At 12 he hit a home run into the upper deck of Tiger Stadium, a feat that many current MLB players have not accomplished.

The younger Fielder was baseball’s “iron man” leader for consecutive games played with 547 before undergoing his first neck surgery in May 2014. In August 2016, he announced he could no longer continue playing after undergoing a second neck surgery in three years. Although not technically retired, as he is spending the remaining four years of his contract on the 60-day disabled list, Fielder is transitioning to a life without the game for the first time.

“You don’t have to have a perfect ending to be happy,” said Fielder. “Happy is what you make it.”

When he announced that he was stepping away from the game, at the suggestion of his surgeon, he was surrounded by his family and teammates. His tearful press conference saying goodbye to baseball was truly that – a goodbye. Since then, he has embraced life after the game by taking a three-week family trip to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, watching his son’s baseball games and getting involved in various other ventures.

Among those is “Fielder’s Choice,” a series in which he visits a restaurant with his wife, Chanel, and a special guest. They engage in conversation while various dishes are brought out. At the end, Chanel and the guest have to guess what dish Fielder liked most. He developed a passion for food and various cuisines during his playing career and the discussion for the show came about from a conversation with a financial manager during the 2016 season.

Although it was not necessarily Fielder’s decision to step away from the game when he did – after 12 seasons at the relatively young age of 32 – he has done so with relatively little regret. With the severity of his injury and the risk of paralysis of it happened again, he has accepted his “permanent offseason” as he calls it. The key to his transition has been his involvement in things that interest him. While he did not necessarily know that he’d be retiring as soon as he did, he had thoughts about a life after the game which is a key realization for all athletes.

Throughout his playing career, Fielder established himself as a happy-go-lucky player who always had a smile on his face. His style of playing the game was to have fun, from his home run celebrations to his swing-out-of-your-shoes approach at the plate he played the game with passion. Even in his “retirement” announcement, he showed his fun side by touching teammate Adrian Beltre’s head (which is a no-no in the baseball community) which drew laughs from those in attendance.

Emotional Fielder
An emotional Fielder at his retirement press conference. Photo via Dallas Morning News.

As his personal brand developed during his playing days, “Fielder’s Choice” follows suit. The unscripted style of the show aligns with his brand in that it is all about enjoying the experience and company.

Prince Fielder’s transition to his post-playing career has been smooth. However, for the majority of athletes it is not as easy. Taking advantage of resources available during your playing career as well as previous articles such as “Five Tips to Make Your Career Transition Easier” and “The Importance of Building and Leveraging Your Personal Brand” preparing for your “permanent offseason” does not need to be as daunting.

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