KUSA - After more than 2,200 games and 2,500 hits, the face of the Colorado Rockies said Wednesday that he "knew it was time" to leave the game.
Joined by his wife and two daughters, Todd Helton held a news conference at Coors Field on Monday, two days after announcing he would leave baseball after this season.
"You know when it's time," Helton said. "I'm 40 years old, I have two young girls and it's a young man's game. You know when it's time."
In 17 seasons, the first baseman has a. 317 batting average with 2,505 hits, including 486 doubles and 367 home runs. He has knocked in 1,397 runs and has scored. Going into tonight's first pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals, Helton has played in 2,235 games for the Rockies.
"People ask me why I didn't smile more. It's because when I was out there I was working hard and trying my hardest," Helton said. "But let me tell you I was enjoying every moment of it."
A first-round pick by the Rockies in the 1995 draft (eighth overall) out of Tennessee, Helton's first game with the Rockies was Aug. 2, 1997, at Pittsburgh when he was 23 years old. He played left field and went 2-for-4 with an eighth-inning home run.
Helton announced late Saturday night he was retiring, and it comes before a nine-game homestand. His last series at Coors Field will be Sept. 24-25 against Boston, which is the team the Rockies played in the 2007 World Series.
Helton has had injuries to his hip, back and knee through the years, with continued back problems later in his career. Before the start of this season, Helton was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in February and later plead guilty to driving while ability impaired.
His best season was 2000 when he played 160 games and lead the National League in hitting (.372), hits (216), RBI (147) and doubles (49). He also had 42 home runs (which ranked seven in the NL). He was fifth in the MVP voting, and it was the first of his five consecutive All-Star Game appearances.
The picture of Helton celebrating at first base after securing the last out in the 2007 National League Championship Series against Arizona to advance to the World Series will remain an icon image for years in the organization.
He also played in the 2009 postseason in the NLDS against Philadelphia. In 15 postseason games, Helton batted .211 with 12 hits, no home runs, and four RBI.
Asked about being a candidate for the Hall of Fame, Helton said "it's an honor to be mentioned but that's for a later date." Baseball players must be retired for five years before they can be on a ballot. He would be a candidate for the class of 2019.
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