Todd Helton played his last game at Coors Field last night. He hit a home run and a double off the wall against the Red Sox, the team with the best record in baseball.
The Rockies mowed Helton’s number into the grass in center field and painted it along the first and third baselines. His daughter threw out the first pitch. His college buddy Peyton Manning was sitting in the stands. Downtown traffic was as bad as I’ve ever seen it, with people mobbing Coors Field to get one last look. And the Rockies gave him a horse. Let me recap: Todd Helton is retiring and the Rockies gave him a horse. A little bizarre, but not a bad send-off.
What’s remarkable is that amidst all the hoopla, it was forgotten that Todd Helton never led the Rockies to a World Series victory. They did make it once in 2007, only to be swept by the Red Sox. Why all the Helton love then? Isn’t it supposed to be all about “rings,” “winning trophies,” and any number of other platitudes we hear from pro athletes about what really matters?
The reason is simple: Helton spent his entire career with Colorado. He didn’t go chasing glory like Alex Rodriguez at Yankee Stadium or Robin Van Persie at Manchester United. Instead, he just went to work in the same place, every day since 1997, and cemented his place into Rockies lore. In an era when it’s all about moves of convenience to snatch up a ring, it’s a nice departure from the status quo.
Trophies didn’t make Helton a legend. Loyalty did. Oh, and by the way, he got a horse for it.