DENVER (CBS4) – This Saturday the CBS4 Sports show The 19th Hole will have one of the most respected figures in Denver sports history as the special guest.
Todd Helton demonstrated great leadership and sportsmanship for the Colorado Rockies during his 17 years as the team’s first baseman, and most Rockies fans feel he deserves to be elected to the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible in three years.
In the time since his 2013 retirement, Helton has spent some time on the links, and CBS4’s Vic Lombardi caught up with him at Bear Creek Golf Course in Denver.
The following are a few of the facts he revealed about himself during the show, which airs on CBS4 Saturday afternoon following the CBS PGA Tour broadcast of the third round of the Wells Fargo Championships:
He isn’t watching Rockies game religiously.
The 19th Hole often features mic’d up conversations between Lombardi and the special guest from inside the golf cart. In one such segment of Saturday’s show, Helton reveals he’s not really paying that much attention to baseball. “I’ll turn it on if I happen to be home,” he says.
… But he still “bleeds purple.”
“I hope (the Rockies) go out and win every game. I think it’s good for the city. I think it’s good for baseball,” he says.
He’s not afraid to share batting tips
Helton tells Lombardi he thinks the key to being successful at the plate in the majors is all about a quick bat. “If you have a long swing you’ve got to start earlier. The (major league pitchers) have better changeups, better splits, and the sillier you’re going to look. So you’ve got to be able to see the ball as long as possible and then be quick with your hands.”
He has seen Peyton Manning throw passes this offseason.
Actually, he reveals on the show that he’s caught some of those passes. Helton and the Broncos quarterback were teammates on the football team at the University of Tennessee and are great friends. Lombardi asks how Peyton Manning’s arm looks. “He looks great, as far as a former first baseman can tell you.”
He golfs right handed.
In baseball, he was a left-handed hitter, but Helton swings the golf club as a righty. “As a kid I would pick up my dad’s clubs, and they were right-handed, so I would just swing them” … and he says he’s been a righty golfer ever since.
He went more than a year without picking up a bat
Lombardi has some fun with Helton at one point in the program, asking him to show how far he can hit a golf ball with a baseball bat. After taking a few swings, Helton pauses and says with a smile: “First time I’ve picked up a bat in maybe a year and a half.”
He has had a lot of run-ins with snakes. A Lot.
Helton owns a ranch in Kersey in Weld County, and when Lombardi asks him about how many snakes he’s encountered, Helton says “over 500.”
You’ll have to watch the show to hear Helton tell the story of how one run-in with a rattlesnake caused him to “scream like a little girl.”
See previous episodes of The 19th Hole on a special section of CBSDenver.com.