Colorado Rockies’ fans have been waiting for this moment since it was announced. Todd Helton took the field for the last time in Denver Wednesday night and tipped his cap to the crowd numerous times, whenever they could find a chance or take a cue to cheer wildly for No. 17, he acknowledged their adoration.
I was there for it all and it was a night that none will forget. The organization put on the best show they could to see Todd Helton off in-front of fans, friends and family.
There were video highlight reels of some of his memorable career moments: his first home run, hitting for the cycle, 1,000 hits at home, 2,000 career hits, clinching the World Series and more. There were some great video messages from former teammates, peers and friends. Former manager Clint Hurdle had a lengthy and nice message for Helton, so did John Elway, Peyton Manning, Clint Barmes, Chipper Jones and others.
The fanfare for Helton was far more memorable than the game itself. Aside from Helton sending a home run to right in his first at bat, a flyout RBI and a long double, the game itself was standard Rockies programming: Colorado lost to Boston 15-5.
But, that home run brought the house down. The stadium boomed right along with his bat like thunder and lightning. The ball went into the stands and the crowd went nuts. The flyout resulted in an RBI, plenty of cheers for the resulting run. His opposite field double had the build-up of a potential home run and the ensuing cheers were slightly stifled by it being a couple feet of another homer.
Todd Helton was appropriately the star of his own retirement party, at least of the home team. The Red Sox put on their own show as they picked apart Jhoulys Chacin, Rob Scahill and Roy Oswalt. A home run here, some well placed drops in the gap there, toss in a grand slam to blow the doors off … they owned the game, but Helton’s party still couldn’t be spoiled by a bad loss.
How could you spoil a night where there were fireworks, videos, kind messages and horses? Well, just one horse. The Rockies presented to Todd Helton a painted gelding as a parting gift for his service and companion to his daughter’s new horse on their ranch. Did Mariano Rivera get a horse during his last home game? The answer is no.
Helton has meant the world to Rockies fans, he has meant everything to the team and will be sorely missed now that he has taken his last at bat in Denver. He isn’t going anywhere, he just isn’t going to be taking the field at first. Chipper told Helton in his message to enjoy retirement, do what he likes to do and to “wax up them bow strings and go kill something.”
Helton has earned himself every moment of his future hunting trips, horseback rides with his daughters and time at home doing absolutely nothing.
I was just glad I got to see him in-person one last time before he moves on. We all were.