PHOENIX (AP) – Todd Helton will retire at the end of the season after spending 17 years with the Colorado Rockies and setting franchise records in nearly every offensive category.
The 40-year-old first baseman’s decision was announced after a 9-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks Saturday night. Almost fittingly, he had a double in his only hit of the night, the 586th of his career.
His final game at Coors Field will be Sept. 25 against the Boston Red Sox, the team that swept the Rockies during the 2007 World Series. The final game of his career will be on Sept. 29 in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.
“For 17 years number ’17’ has been the icon of Colorado Rockies baseball,” Rockies owner Dick Monfort said in a statement. “Todd will be missed and our hope is he will be a part of our Colorado baseball family for many more years to come.”
The Denver Post first reported the story.
Helton is a career .317 hitter and has 367 home runs, 1,397 RBIs, 1,394 runs, a .415 on-base percentage and a .539 slugging percentage in 2,235 career games. He was an All-Star from 2000 to 2004 and will end his career as the Rockies’ leader in games, hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs, runs and walks.
Earlier this month, Helton became the 96th player in major league history to reach the 2,500-hit milestone. According to the Rockies, he joins Hall of Famer Stan Musial as the only players in major league history with at least 2,500 hits, 550 doubles, 350 home runs and a .310 or higher career batting average.
Helton has been bothered by back trouble in recent years, hitting a career-low .238 in 2012 and leading to speculation that this could be his final season in purple pinstripes.
“If I could play 81 games at home next year, I could do it. I could do it for a couple of more years,” Helton told The Denver Post on Saturday. “And if they had the games scheduled for the same time so I could get a sleeping pattern, I would have a chance.
“I am sure come next February, probably even in December when it’s usually time to start getting ready, it will be tough. I don’t know how I am going to react. It will be weird. But I have other things in my life besides baseball.”
In February, Helton found himself in the news when he was charged with driving under the influence and careless driving, but prosecutors dropped those charges under a plea deal. He was sentenced to a year of probation along with 24 hours of community service.
Although he struggled early this season, Helton is now hitting .244. And while his bat may have been slow to come around, his glove has remained highly dependable as he scoops anything in his vicinity. Helton is a three-time Gold Glove winner. He has a career fielding percentage of .996, which is among the all-time best for a first baseman.
Helton had one of the biggest hits in team history, a walk-off homer against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sept. 18, 2007, that ignited their Rocktober run to the World Series.
During a recent series in the Mile High City, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly chatted about Helton, saying “I hate seeing him up there late in the game, with the game on the line. I really don’t want Todd up there. He’s had a couple of 10- or 11-pitch at-bats where he ends up hitting a homer or a double or something.
“He’s had an unbelievable career.”
Helton was a first-round pick out of the University of Tennessee in 1995. In addition to playing baseball for the Volunteers, Helton also was the quarterback before eventually giving way to Peyton Manning, who won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts before joining the Denver Broncos last season. Helton and Manning remain good friends.
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)