The greatest Rockie of all time official announces that his career is nearly over. We were lucky to ever have it at all.
It was announced late last night and most Rockies fans new it was coming. Todd Helton is retiring.
There is no shortage of feelings this news sends running through my veins and there are no words that can do justice to the man's remarkable career. I already wrote him a letter earlier this season and in order to avoid re-treading I'd like to quote what I wrote then:
I was just a kid when I first heard the name Todd Helton. And I was not a fan. I was a fan of the Big Cat, Andres Galarraga. I was still too young to understand transactions, minor leagues, and the general concepts behind how front offices build teams. So I started off mad and weary of this smooth faced kid who took the place of one of my favorite players. You, dear Toddfather, taught me a great deal about baseball from that point on, and I became a fan.
You taught me about the battle for the strike zone. I learned from watching your at-bats game after game how the hitter can take all the advantages a pitcher has and minimize them by understanding and controlling that little invisible space above the plate. Your discipline, quick hands, and ability to cover the two-strike borderline pitch taught me how fundamentally important each pitch could be and that in baseball, like in life, you can't take anything for granted or it will come back to bite you.
I grew up watching baseball as you grew up playing baseball. You taught a whole new generation what the word "loyalty" means. I am not naive enough to believe you had complete control over this but we all know there were a number of times in your career when you could have forced your way onto another (likely better) team. It is sweet serenity for so many of us that the greatest Rockie of all time wore a CR on his hat every day for 16 years.
I am too young to recall much of the careers of Cal Ripken Jr or Tony Gwynn. I was a fan, but only personally got to see the tail end of their careers. I remember my dad saying something along the lines of "we may never see that again" referring to great players giving their entire careers to one team. I have been to countless Rockies games during the Todd Helton era, however, and personally witnessed a lifetime of memories from the same #17 in that same CR hat.
If Friday night's blast, which literally filled my eyes up with tears, is the last time I see you hit a home run live, I can only say that I will always remember it. I will always remember you flirting with .400. I will always remember "Todd and the toddlers." I will always remember the triple you hit in Philadelphia in your very first post season at-bat after years of waiting. I will always remember you throwing your hands and your head into the air as soon as you caught the throw from Troy Tulowitzki in game 4 of the 2007 NLCS. I may never have been happier for the happiness of another human being I had never met then I was in that moment.
I will always remember that for a good solid decade, you were the reason to buy Rockies tickets.
When you made your MLB debut, I didn't know what a balk was, or even that pitching a ball on purpose (or not swinging at a strike) could be a good thing. Now, at the end of your career, I get to write for a Rockies website filled with some of the most knowledgeable baseball fans I have ever seen. And for that, I say thank you.
Thank you for teaching me about the game I love. I will always remember the great Todd Helton.
I only want to add that I find it perfect ironic serenity that people have been so enamoured with Mariano Reviera this season during his farewell tour. He has recieved gifts and praise and an MLB All-Star game MVP award (sorry I already said gifts) while Todd Helton has done what he has always done; his job quietly and without fanfare.
Troy Renck on Helton
Eric Stephen from True Blue LA with a nice tribute to Todd