“I know that I have to go away. I have to go.”
— “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens
Although angst between father and son can be traced to the beginning of time, I thought it was strange when baseball star Prince Fielder showed animosity toward his father, Cecil, a former baseball star himself.
The book about Cecil was that he was a well-rounded family man.
Then I read published reports which stated that Cecil ran through the $47 million that he made as a baseball player.
According to an article in the Detroit News, Cecil lost a ton of money at the casinos and never told his family. Nothing seemed amiss until the foreclosure people showed up. Cecil and his wife then had a bitter divorce.
Sports Illustrated said Cecil allegedly helped himself to $200,000 of Prince’s signing bonus. Prince was served by a lawsuit process server seeking Cecil during a baseball game.
You can see why Prince is somewhat hostile.
Money woes caused the destruction of the Fielder family, just as it has for many families. Money is a leading cause of divorce. Cecil’s hidden gambling spawned a lack of trust.
Although gambling was a huge part of the problem, Cecil also lost money making bad business decisions. That is really sad.
When you have $47 million, you don’t need to make any business decisions. You just need to hang on to your money. You can invest it conservatively and live the life you want.
The smart thing for Fielder to do would have been to have set some financial goals that would have gotten a decent return with little risk.
If Cecil had put the money in treasury bonds paying 5 percent, the interest would have been more than $2.3 million a year.
Some people can live on $2.3 million a year. I probably can.
There was no need for Cecil to take business risks. He did anyway.
Cecil went into businesses such as classic cars, real estate and a limousine service.
Most successful business owners start from the ground up and know their industries intimately. Baseball has no correlation to any of the businesses Fielder was in. Umpires don’t whisper hot real estate tips in your ear.
Now Cecil has nothing, and his bad decisions helped destroy his family.
Watching the Fielder family feud is painful. Baseball is a sport that worships father-son combinations. If Cecil could have kept it together, he would be a hero to a new generation.
I don’t know the whole story. Cecil blames his ex-wife for the family rift and claims she was a wild spender. He might be right, but I would have liked to have seen how the family would have held up if Cecil had stuck his money in the bank.
You used to hear frequent stories of athletes going broke. It doesn’t happen as often now. In recent years, specialized firms have started handling players’ money, and many have done a good job.
Also, baseball players make more money than they used to. I remember when Pete Rose’s goal was to someday make $100,000. Now the bat boy probably makes that.
Few people get the opportunity to make really big money, and professional athletes have short careers. Business people can go broke and start over, but Cecil is not going to get another chance to hit home runs.
It doesn’t sound like Cecil has learned his lesson. He told Sports Illustrated that he is going to hit the big time with a broadband network. He and Evander Holyfield are partners. I’d feel better about Cecil’s chances if his partner were a broadband whiz instead of a former boxer.
Cecil is swinging for the fences in the business world and hoping for a home run.
In business, like in baseball, there are more strikeouts than home runs. Like playing baseball, business is not as easy as it looks.
I really liked Cecil Fielder as a player and hope he gets his life together. Until he does, I can see why Prince is following Cat Stevens’ advice.
Prince knows he has to go away and not make the mistakes his dad made.
Don McNay is chairman of the board for McNay Settlement Group in Richmond, Ky. You can write to him at email@example.com and read other things he has written at www.donmcnay.com. His award-winning column is syndicated throughout more than 200 newspapers.
“I know that I have to go away. I have to go.”
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