Teammates, execs will miss Helton's presence
Members of Rockies organization react to slugger's pending retirement
PHOENIX -- The announcement that first baseman Todd Helton is retiring at the end of the season rippled through the Rockies' clubhouse and organization on Sunday.
Everyone was in attendance, including owner, chairman and chief executive Dick Monfort, senior vice president of baseball operations Bill Geivett, and vice president of communications Jay Alves.
Helton's retirement after 17 seasons, all with the Rockies, signals the end of an era, Montfort said.
"With Todd, you never thought it would come to an end," Monfort said. "He's such a good guy and a great professional. It's just hard to believe it has come to an end. It's up to him now about what he's going to do. I've talked to him on and off over the years about, 'What are you going to do beyond baseball?'
|Carl Yastrzemski||Red Sox||3,308|
|Cal Ripken Jr.||Orioles||3,001|
|Mel Ott||NY Giants||2,730|
|Derek Jeter *||Yankees||2,602|
|Luke Appling||White Sox||2,422|
|Ted Williams||Red Sox||2,292|
|Todd Helton *||Rockies||2,235|
|Pee Wee Reese||Brooklyn/LA Dodgers||2,166|
|Jim Rice||Red Sox||2,089|
"I think now he just wants to chill out. He's got two young daughters. He's got a lot of interest in being with them. You know what I told him the other day: I'm 59 now, and when I first met him, he just came up. I was just about the age he is now. You never think of things like that, but there it is, it's the end of an era."
Geivett, who has had about a year in his current role, but 13 in the organization, said it will be strange not to have Helton around.
"Well, we've all been sort of wondering all year what would happen," Geivett said. "And he made it clear. It'll definitely be different. He's been here such a long time and been such a great player here. But I'm sure we'll see him a lot. I've read some things where he could use some time away from the game and enjoy his life. But for most of them, there always seems to come a time for baseball guys that they find their way back in."
Here's a sampling in the clubhouse of what some of the Rockies were saying about Helton on Sunday:
Manager Walt Weiss: "It's a rarity that you get to say when you're done. The great ones do. They have that luxury. Todd has certainly had a great career and has been a great player for a long time. Most of us anticipated this coming into the season, that this would be his last. There might be some doubts along the way and maybe he might try it again. But for the most part, we had a pretty good feeling that this was going to be it. I'm glad there was an announcement, so that when we go home, the fans can recognize him, the city can recognize him and celebrate his career."
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki: "Obviously, he had a great career. I spent a lot of time with him, as far as being a teammate. It's been a joy. It's going to be tough to see him go. I'm going to miss him. I know that. He's a professional in every sense of the word. I learned so much from him and I'm going to take that onward in my career. I'm going to stay close to him, because he's not only a great baseball player, but he's just a really good dude."
Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez: "Well, it's tough for any player to give up what you like to do. But everybody gets to that point. At some point, you're going to have to move on. I'm happy for him. He had a great career, and a lot of people are going to remember him as one of the greatest hitters in the game. To me, I'll remember the way he went about his business every single day. I got to play with him for four years. Every time he went out there, he was always concentrating, focusing on his game. That's all you can ever ask from a professional player like he is."
Starter Tyler Chatwood: "It's awesome the kind of career that he's been able to have, and this little hot streak he's been on is a cool way for him to go out. You kind of hoped he'd come back, just because of what he's meant to this organization. But I think he thinks it's time to go home and spend some time with his family. He's accomplished a lot in this game. I mean, you can't really fault anything he's done."
Reliever Jeff Francis: "It's official, but I think we all knew it was coming. I made it a point this year to enjoy it a little more. With every hit you see, it reminds you of the 2,500 before it. It was pretty impressive. Certainly there are a lot of great moments: that walk-off homer in September 2007. The emotion he showed when he crossed home plate. At that point, I don't think we had ever seen it. It was something that started a great run for our team. To see him jump on home plate. You knew he thought it was an important hit. That was probably one of my favorite moments of his."
Reliever Adam Ottavino: "I tried to soak up the moments this season, but you can never do as much as you'd like. It goes quicker than you think. A lot of people probably knew that this was it, but they hadn't said anything official yet until yesterday. It's been kind of tough. It stinks. I mean, we all love him, so I wish he would come back. But he's had a great career."
First baseman Jordan Pacheco: "It's amazing what he's still able to do with the glove and bat, especially in big situations. It's fun to watch. I talk to him every once in awhile about it to see what he's thinking, how he just goes about his business. It's an honor to be able to do that. As a kid, I definitely remember watching him. And then you get drafted by the Rockies and suddenly you're on his team. It's something else."
Reliever and close friend Matt Belisle: "I think they are intertwined together, the friendship and being teammates. Ever since the first few games I've played with him, he set an example of intensity and character of a Hall-of-Fame-type player. That never wanes. His desire to win, his competitiveness and the way he prepares and goes out every day was just a continued example over the years about how to play the game."
Second baseman DJ LeMahieu: "Personally, I'm just glad to have played with him the last couple of years. He's always been a great teammate to me and to everyone else in here. I didn't play with him when he was one of the best in the game, but he's an unbelievable player. He's a leader in here, and that will be missed a lot. He comes in every day and busts his butt, plays hard and plays the game the right way."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.