Like it or not, the Colorado Rockies ARE our brothers. Salt River Fields Brothers, that is. We share the same Spring Training complex with the Rockies...and for 15 years, the Diamondbacks have seen and played against Rockies first baseman and face of the franchise Todd Helton. Well, now Todd's time has come to hang up his cleats and ride off in the sunset with his wife Christy and their 2 daughters, Tierney & Gentry.
Todd Helton was chosen by the Rockies in the 8th round of the 1995 draft, fresh out of the University of Tennessee, which, coincidentally, is also the alma mater of former Diamondbacks Augie Ojeda & Chris Burke. A random fact about Todd: he was the Vols quarterback before current Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. Todd was also a pitcher before making the transition to first base.
So why should a guy who was never a Diamondback and stayed with one team his whole career, that being the Rockies, matter to US? Well, the answer goes back to where he spent the past 3 Spring Trainings: Salt River Fields. Todd is a well-known fixture there, as well as at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, where the Rockies spent their Spring Trainings from 1992-2010. Fans of all teams became familiar with Todd from seeing him at Spring Training and throughout the regular season. Todd was a 5-time All-Star, won the Silver Slugger Award 4 times, & won the Gold Glove Award 3 times. His loyalty to the Rockies organization, his teammates, managers, & the fans won him over with fans and players throughout baseball. 17 years with the same team...now that's awesome!
Those of you who know me, know that the Rockies are special to me. I grew up an Angels fan, but in 1992 when it was announced that Colorado would have its own Major League team, based in Denver, I was totally enamored with the idea of having my own team to grow up with. I grew up in Colorado and having my very own team was a gift in itself. My player at the time was Dante Bichette, whom I grew to admire during his time with the Angels and when he came to the Rockies, well, he remained my player. In the meantime, I was big on Tennessee Volunteers sports, particularly their baseball team but also the football team all because of Todd Helton. I was ecstatic when I watched Todd get selected in the '95 draft...and knew that someday he and Dante Bichette would be teammates in the majors.
I was at the game at Coors Field in 1997 when Todd made his home debut with the big club. They played him in left field that day and he wasn't that great defensively, but offensively was a different story...he was fantastic!
From that day on, Todd went on to be my #1 player, closely tied with Dante Bichette. After Dante left the Rockies, Todd remained the big fave, despite my efforts to cheer Dante on with the Reds & Red Sox.
There are many players I like and admire, but Todd Helton will always remain my biggie. After all, I watched him play for 17 years with the Rockies organization. He will always hold a very special place in my heart.
Congratulations to Todd Helton on an amazing 17-year career...all with one team. You don't find that much loyalty in the game anymore...and that is sad!