DENVER -- Rockies star Todd Helton's No. 17 made it to the Coors Field rafters first, at the end of his 17-year career. Then Larry Walker's No. 33 finally went up in 2021, after the outfielder who wore it -- the Rockies first true superstar -- was inducted to the Hall of Fame.
A new school franchise with old-school values, visible through its pinstriped uniforms and rustic park design, the Rockies intentionally decided they would be stingy with number retirements. While there is a good argument that the Rockies retire No. 25 for Don Baylor, their original manager and a guiding light through much of the team's early history -- the honor will continue to be rare.
Otherwise, the Rockies have honored the initials "KSM" for Keli Scott McGregor, who joined the Rockies as senior director of operations in October 1994 and served as president of the club from 2001 until his unexpected death on April 20, 2010.
Todd Helton, 1B, No. 17
Number retired: Aug. 17, 2014
Helton was chosen out of the University of Tennessee in 1995 as the fourth first-round MLB Draft pick in Rockies history -- and the first position player they took in the first round. Helton represented the club in five All-Star Games, won four Louisville Silver Slugger Awards, three Rawlings Gold Glove Awards, and in a special 2000 season took home the National League batting and RBI titles, and earned the NL Hank Aaron Award. Helton will forever be remembered for a home run off the Dodgers' Takashi Saito on Sept. 18, 2007 -- a walk-off blast in a 9-8 victory that helped propel the club into the playoffs and, eventually, to its only World Series appearance.
The image of Helton raising both hands in triumph after the final putout of the NL Championship Series sweep of the D-backs at Coors Field stands as a golden moment in team history. While his contributions go beyond statistics, Helton is the Rockies' all-time leader in wins above replacement (WAR) at 61.2 (according to Baseball Reference), games played (2,247), at-bats (7,962), plus almost every significant offensive category -- such as home runs (369), RBIs (1,406) and total bases (4,292).
Note: On April 15, 1997, the Rockies joined every team in MLB in retiring No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson.
Larry Walker, OF, No. 33
Number retired: Sept. 25, 2021
Just like Walker's induction to the Hall, the honor was long overdue. Yes, he began his career with the Expos, where he captured the attention of his home country of Canada, and finished it with the Cardinals, where he was immediately loved and forever appreciated. But Hall of Fame voters eventually concluded that it wasn't right to deny him immortality because many of his stats were accumulated when he played his home games in Denver. And with the interlocking CR on his plaque in Cooperstown, the only thing that made sense was raising his N0. 33 -- trimmed in gold -- above right field at Coors.
The stats were debated until his final year of Hall eligibility. But there was no debating what he meant. He came to Denver's old Mile High Stadium when the Expos opened the Rockies' first home schedule in '93. He fell in love with the mountains and with a fan base delirious with joy that top-level baseball was finally being played before them. Walker signed with the Rockies for '94, led them to their first postseason berth in '95, won National League Most Valuable Player in '97 and, finally, has his jersey number in its rightful place.