The Rockies have long been reluctant to retire numbers. In the franchise’s early days, the thought was to withhold the honor for players who enter the Hall of Fame. But that changed after Helton spent his entire, distinguished 17-season career in purple, black and silver. Fittingly, his number was retired on Aug. 17, 2014.
Walker, meanwhile, signed in 1995 and helped an expansion franchise to what, at the time, was the quickest postseason berth in history (in its third year). He also won the National League MVP Award in '97 and was a star until he was traded to the Cardinals in 2004.
Along with a campaign to get him into the Hall of Fame, which was successful this winter, there was a quieter urging for his team to honor him the way it had Helton. After all, No. 33 had been worn in the regular season just once after Walker left -- and that was when fellow Canadian Justin Morneau sought and received Walker’s permission to wear it from 2014-15.
The Rockies announced the retiring of Walker’s jersey just days before the Hall of Fame honor occurred.
The Rockies also have honored their late president, Keli McGregor, with his initials.
Jersey retirements around here are tough to come by, with just one other de facto retired number. While Helton is official and Walker is a ceremony away, there is just one other de facto retired number. The club has not issued No. 57 since the unexpected death of Darryl Kile, who spent 1998-99 with the club. Kile, a member of the Cardinals at the time of his passing, was respected for his leadership during his brief time in Colorado.
But if we’re looking at the next Rockies' jersey numbers to be retired, there appear to be two clear candidates -- one for his special contribution to the franchise, the other for what could be a Hall of Fame career. Here are the franchise figures and their numbers:
Facing an unknown environment that proved advantageous for hitters but arduous for pitchers, Baylor built around a lineup big on power and speed and supported the starters by juggling bullpen arms. The Rockies went 77-67 during the strike-shortened 1995 season and made the playoffs before falling to the Braves in the NL Division Series. Baylor had three .500-plus seasons before the roster aged and the payroll became top-heavy.
He finished with a 440-469 mark, but remember that the first two years were expansion years and the club didn’t make its first big free-agent grab until signing Walker ahead of the ’95 season. Baylor also returned as hitting coach under manager Clint Hurdle in 2009 and served through '10 under Jim Tracy.
Baylor passed away from cancer on Aug. 7, 2017 at age 68.
No. 28: Nolan Arenado (2013-present)
Seven Gold Glove Awards in as many seasons, five All-Star Game invitations, three seasons either leading the NL in homers or tied for the lead, and two seasons with RBI crowns all seem like the beginnings of a Hall of Fame career.
This question is open-ended: Will Nolan Arenado become like Helton, who was with the Rockies through thick and thin? With Arenado in the lineup, the team went to the postseason in 2017 and '18, after never previously having gone in consecutive years.
Arenado is two years into an eight-year contract. However, he has has the ability to opt out after 2021 and was highly frustrated after last year’s 71-91 finish and didn’t hide his anger. Arenado possesses some similarities to former Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who went to five All-Star Games in 10 seasons with the Rockies and whose contributions as a rookie in '07 helped the team to the World Series. There was much acrimony after Tulowitzki was traded to the Blue Jays in 2015.