Prince Fielder and I have known each other since we were about 11 years old. We played on the same AAU baseball team while growing up. We kind of lost track after a few years of playing together but then got to reacquaint ourselves after we were drafted.
Our AAU team was based in Orlando, but we had kids coming from all over the state of Florida to come play with us. It was kind of like an AAU All-Star team. Back then we even played the same positions as we do now -- Prince was at first and I was at second base.
I never imagined he and I would wind up playing on the same team in the big leagues, though. It still blows my mind, to this day. At that time I was playing both baseball and football. I was running back and forth from one practice to another. AAU Baseball was just kind of there as a fall sport.
But as much as I like playing football I was always a better baseball player. I think I'm a pretty good athlete, but I just had a little bit more of an edge as a baseball player. Prince was strictly a baseball player. He didn't play football with me.
We reconnected while playing Single-A ball. After I got drafted, I got sent to Single-A and met up with him there. Then we moved up the ranks together, playing Double-A and Triple-A ball all the way up to the big leagues.
We're pretty good friends off the field, too. We like to bring the families together and hang out a little.
Rickie Weeks, the second overall draft pick in 2003 after winning the Golden Spikes Award during his final collegiate season at Southern University, had a .374 on-base average while hitting 16 home runs and stealing 25 bases in 27 attempts for the up-and-coming Brewers in 2007.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.