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‘Not a rah-rah guy’: Celebrating Toddisms

Colorado Rockies news and links for Friday, January 26. 2024

In 1997, the Colorado Rockies first baseman led the National League with 140 RBI. He was third in the NL with 41 home runs and 351 total bases, and fourth in runs scored with 120 and a .585 slugging percentage. He posted the sixth-best OPS in the NL at .974 and had the seventh-highest batting average at .318. He was an All-Star. That same season, he hit a grand slam that landed 20 rows deep in the upper deck in Miami off Kevin Brown.

At the end of the season, the Rockies let him go.

Just like that, Andrés Galarraga wasn’t a Rockie anymore. The Big Cat’s days as a Blake Street Bomber were over. As a 14-year-old diehard Rockies fan, I was frustrated and heartbroken.

Who the heck was going to be better than Galarraga?

Who’s this new guy from Tennessee?

The Rockies knew they had something special. Maybe they even knew they had someone better. Time would prove they made the best decision in Rockies history, calling up the future face of the franchise, one who would lead the Rockies to the World Series, and eventually be inducted into the Hall of the Fame.

Helton told MLB Network he felt the pressure to be the next Big Cat. He wasn’t pleased with the first half of his rookie season. So he dug in, focused on defense to improve his offense, and became a Hall of Famer.

That choice to bring up Helton changed the trajectory of the Colorado Rockies. Helton became the Colorado Rockies. His No. 17 occupied first base for 17 years. He stamped his name all over the Rockies record book. He was a thrill to watch on the field. He hit 1,406 doubles. He walked 160 more times than he stuck out (1,335 vs. 1,175). You could list his mind-blowing stats all day.

As Purple Row’s Skyler Timmins wrote earlier this week, Helton became a legend in every aspect. He proved it with his talent and work ethic. He helped players around him be better. He loved Colorado and Colorado loved him back.

After receiving the call from Cooperstown on Tuesday, Helton headed to baseball’s Mecca to see the sacred plaques and begin the induction year. Whether he was in one-on-one interviews or when he took his place next to Adrián Beltré and Joe Mauer, I was filled with pride after each and every answer Helton gave.

If Yogi Berra’s famous, mind-twisting, humorous quips are known as Yogi-isms, then Helton’s humble, respectful, and genuine reflections should be known as Toddisms. Not only do they help cement Helton’s legacy, they are life lessons that apply on and off the field.

Here are my favorite Toddisms from the week so far:

On attitude:

“I think you bite your tongue a little bit and you go out and play hard every day and you try to make the team better. And you lead.”

“You don’t go out wanting to be a Hall of Famer. You just go out and play your hardest and this is just a great reward.”

On loyalty:

“I almost got traded in 2007 to the Red Sox, but I am so happy that I played my whole career in Colorado. I love the town. I love the people. I was very lucky to get drafted by them.”

On humility:

“I really didn’t think the phone was going to ring. I was really surprised when it did. …I really don’t know how to act. I am not like a rah-rah guy, so what you saw was about as good as it gets as far as my emotion.”

On work ethic:

“I was hard on myself when I played. I wish I was the type of player that went out with a smile on my face and had fun, but for me to go out and be the player I wanted to be, I had to be serious and I had to try. It wasn’t like it just came so natural for me. I put effort in every day. I can remember being in the Minor Leagues and they were telling me you’re not going to make it to the Big Leagues because of defense. When I heard that, I was like ‘holy cow.’ So I worked my butt off at it every day. I credit my defense for helping me hitting my rookie year. I quit focusing on my at-bats — just let them happen.”

When asked about who was the better quarterback in this Hall of Fame, Helton, a QB at Tennessee, immediately jumped in to say it was former Florida State QB Mauer.

“It’s gotta be him. I played in the SEC, but I wasn’t very good. But I had fun and it got me a full-ride to college.”

Helton’s talent made us love him. His demeanor and respect for the game make me grateful he wore purple. No one could be a better Mr. Rockie.

With Helton returning to Colorado on Saturday for the first of many ceremonies to honor him in 2024, I know there will be more Toddisms to come.

★★★

Keeler: How Todd Helton, Mr. Rockie, became Cooperstown’s baddest dude: “I don’t think he even felt pain” “ Denver Post ($)

This is a cool angle centered around the relationship between Helton and Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger. Sean Keller compares Dugger and Helton to two famous athlete movie stars: “Dugger was Mighty Mick to Helton’s Rocky Balboa, right down to the bruises.” Dugger not only helped keep Helton healthy and treated him through injuries, and kept him physically tough while supporting his superstitions.

‘Now we’re in the same room’: Newest Hall of Famers soak it all in | MLB.com

Seeing Todd put on the Hall of Fame jersey and take it all in is pretty amazing. There are great clips from all three inductees to the 2024 HOF.

★ ★ ★

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