What Todd Helton's Legacy Means to the Colorado Rockies

David A. CucchiaraCorrespondent ISeptember 22, 2013

Todd Helton has been the face of a young Rockies franchise.
Todd Helton has been the face of a young Rockies franchise.Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

In August of 1997 the Colorado Rockies called upon their promising prospect Todd Helton to make his first career start.

After looping one into the gap for his first career hit in the fourth inning, he stepped up to the plate in the eighth and crushed his first career home run over the wall in right-center.

From then on, Helton would become the face of the franchise, representing the Rockies with class and a heavy dose of doubles.

Baseball is in an era of steroids, money and constant transactions. In the midst of the lying and greed that has tarnished the game, Helton has worn the same uniform for the last 17 years. That feat is a rarity in itself.

Last week, Helton announced he will be retiring at the season’s end. “Yes, this is it,” said Helton. “It just seems like it's time. It's a young man's game. I am 40 years old. I am looking forward to doing something else besides baseball. Whatever that may be. I am not sure yet,” said Helton.

The result of his decision has been respect. He’s received a standing ovation before virtually every one of his at-bats at Coors and on the road.

To Rockies fans, Helton is more than just a great player. For the first time in the history of the 20-year-old franchise, a number will likely be retired.

DENVER - OCTOBER 15:  (L-R) Josh Fogg #37 and Todd Helton #17 of the Colorado Rockies celebrate in the locker room after their 6-4 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks during Game Four of the National League Championship Series at Coors Field on October 1
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

As long as the Rockies exist, no one will wear No. 17.

Like the Royals’ George Brett or the Rangers’ Nolan Ryan, Helton will go down as the best to ever put on a Rockies uniform.

He’s No. 96 on the all-time hits list with 2511 and No. 16 on the all-time doubles list. He’s a five-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glover and four-time Silver Slugger Award winner. His career .316 hitter and batted .372 at just 26 years old.

Helton has racked up an outstanding resume of accomplishments, and he’s done so in an entirely humble, professional manner. Steroids never entered the picture. The only substances that enhanced his performance were the thin air and vibrant crowds of Coors Field.

While analysts and baseball enthusiasts argue whether or not No. 17 is bound for Cooperstown, Rockies fans will continue to savor the final at-bats of their favorite player’s career.

Use the comments section below to talk about your favorite Todd Helton moment.


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