Todd man out: Helton's retired number stands alone

March 11th, 2019

DENVER -- From pinstriped uniforms to a park built to last with a name that doesn't change every few years, the Rockies have always connected themselves to the history of the game -- even though their history is relatively short. That colored the policy when it came to retired numbers.

Some teams have looser policies than the Rockies. But for Colorado, it took one special player to qualify: Todd Helton.

The number, 17, worked perfectly. Helton spent his entire 17-season career with the Rockies. Fittingly, the number was retired in 2014 -- on Aug. 17.

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 sudden 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.