National League first baseman Todd Helton #17 from the Colorado Rockies is congratulated at home plate by Gary Sheffield #11 of the Atlanta Braves after hitting a two run home run to center field off of Shigetoshi Hasegawa of the Seattle Mariners with no outs in the fifth inning to give the NL a 2-1 lead in the 74th Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 15, 2003 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. The American League won 7-6. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
In the ten All-Star games that Rockies players were a part of prior to the 2003 season, they had garnered 20 total selections, and those selections had hit a combined 343 home runs before the break in their respective seasons, but not one of them went deep in the Midsummer Classic. That is, until July 15th, 2003 at US Cellular Field on the south side of Chicago.
Todd Helton was voted in to the 2003 All-Star Game as the starting first baseman after posting a 1.078 OPS in the first half, including 21 home runs. It was the fourth consecutive season that the Toddfather represented the Rockies in the All-Star Game, but he had limited success in the previous three games; across six plate appearances, he had reached base just once - via an RBI single in the '02 contest.
Continue past the jump to read about how Helton's next two ASG plate appearances turned out.
Helton's first bit of involvement in the 2003 All-Star Game came on a first pitch grounder by AL lead-off hitter Ichiro Suzuki in the bottom of the first, on which Helton made a slick play and touched first base for the NL's first out of the game - 3 unassisted. In the top of the second, Helton had his first plate appearance of the game, going up against AL starter Esteban Loaiza (of the host Chicago White Sox). Todd was able to work Loaiza to a full count (no surprise there), but swung and missed at the sixth pitch of the at-bat, making the second out of the inning in the process.
It wasn't until the bottom of the fifth inning that Helton would see another at-bat, but boy did he make the most of it. Seattle Mariners reliever Shigetoshi Hasegawa - a guy who was a pretty poor All-Star selection - took over for Jamie Moyer and immediately walked Gary Sheffield on five pitches to lead off the inning. Perhaps knowing that Hasegawa would groove a fastball in there just to ensure he threw a strike, Helton came out swinging and belted a two-run bomb slightly right of center field that put the National League ahead 2-1. The NL All-Stars would go on to score three more runs, as they sent nine batters to the plate and led 5-1 after the inning was over. Helton was in the hole when Barry Bonds made the final out of the inning on a groundout to first.
Helton would be subbed out for Richie Sexson in the bottom of the fifth, so he wasn't able to do anymore damage. However, he was probably the front-runner for the All-Star Game MVP award at that point. Unfortunately, the NL subsequently blew a four-run lead and lost the game. Eric Gagne, who converted on all 55 of his save opportunities during the regular season that year, was charged with the blown save. Garrett Anderson wound up garnering MVP honors. Still, Helton was responsible for the second-biggest play in terms of WPA in the game, as the homer resulted in a 21% WPA swing; only Hank Blalock's homer off of Gagne was more clutch (56% WPA).
Helton made the All-Star Game the following year, and narrowly missed being selected this season. In five career Midsummer Classics, Todd is 2-for-9 with the one big home run and three RBIs.