Editor's Note: The following post is a part of the 2013 Purple Row Writer Search -- our quest to find some great new contributors to Purple Row.
In a season that will likely be Todd Helton’s last, there will be no added pomp and circumstance. There will be no ‘farewell tour’. There will be no ‘look at me’ moments unless they are created by a sparkling defensive play or a vintage 10 pitch at bat in which he laces an opposite field double. No, there will just be the Todd Helton that Rockies fans have come to know and love.
You see, Helton doesn’t play the game to get noticed and he certainly doesn’t want the kind of attention that Chipper Jones received in his last season.
Returning for his 17th season after undergoing season ending hip surgery, Helton simply wants to play until the 27th out each and every game he’s capable of and to contribute his best on the field.
Not many players, in any sport, play their entire career for one organization, but Helton has spent his entire career in the Mile High city and it has helped endear him among Rockies faithful.
This season will generate a lot of discussion on whether he is Hall worthy or not.
Are his splits too drastic? Does his lack of playoff appearances matter? What about his last 5 seasons that have been marked by injury and inconsistent play? How about his pre and post humidor numbers? Did his numbers decline because he came off steroids? (an egregious assertion). No doubt all these issues and more will be covered and debated this season, but I’m not here to talk about that.
I’m here to talk about the career .320 hitter, the career .420 OBP, the close to 1,400 RBIs, the close to 600 doubles, the 5 time all-star, the 3 time Gold Glove award winner, the 4 time Silver Slugger. And an attitude that never once clamored for attention.
In a day and age where sports stars’ egos and personal lives are constantly getting more attention than their game, Helton has stood out as an athlete that went about his business the right way. He leads with a quiet passion and work ethic that drives teammates and fans to respect him. He doesn’t want the attention…heck, he doesn’t need the attention.
He leads by example.
He never complains about a back that required multiple surgeries and sapped him of his power, and he likely won’t make excuses for his newly repaired hip. Instead, he plays until his body won’t let him play. He grinds out every at bat as if it’s his last and rarely misplays a ball on defense or misses a scoop. He has saved the Rockies infielders countless errors over the years because of his attention to detail defensively. And despite his injuries, one won’t be surprised to see him dive for a shot in the hole even if at this stage in his career it is painful and rather ungraceful.
The Rockies have been anything but a consistent winner in Helton’s tenure with the club, but make no mistake, he is a winner. Put Helton in Yankee pinstripes instead of purple, and he would likely be a legend.
If the Rockies are looking for leadership for their young core they need look no further than Todd.
Some may find his return this season questionable, but a player of his caliber and dedication deserves to go out on his own terms. And there is no question that one more season with Helton can only be positive for each one of his coaches,teammates, and fans.
I for one look forward to seeing that ‘Rally Todd’ sign in center field for one more season and hearing his country music blare as he steps to the plate.
This may be his last, but it certainly won’t be his least. And who knows, maybe they can win one for the Toddfather.