Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton will be riding off into the sunset following his 17th season in the major leagues, but he's not done making an impact just yet.
In the first at-bat of his final home game on Wednesday night, the man known around Colorado as "The Toddfather" brought the 48,775 fans already standing at Coors Field to a higher level when he connected off Jake Peavy for a solo home run — his 15th of the season and the 369th of his career, tying Ralph Kiner for 74th on the all-time list.
Helton's memorable blast came just moments after the Rockies honored him in an emotional pregame ceremony. Helton's oldest daughter, Tierney Faith, handled first pitch duties, throwing a strike to her father from 35 feet away. The Rockies also presented Helton and his family with their parting gift — a six-year-old horse named A Tru Bustamove.
That's not a misprint. The Rockies presented Helton — who it should be noted enjoys ranching and in fact resides on a ranch not far from Coors Field — with a horse.
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) September 26, 2013
Creatively, it has to rank right up there with the Minnesota Twins presenting Mariano Rivera with a rocking chair made out of broken bats.
Overall, though, it's more of a gift for the entire family to enjoy — especially Helton's young daughters, who already have one horse back at the ranch — than it is a tribute to Helton. Considering Helton's selfless nature and desire to shift the spotlight off of himself whenever possible, it's probably the only type of gift he would accept anyway.
The Rockies didn't get the victory on Wednesday night, falling 15-5 to the Boston Red Sox. But that result barely made a dent in the emotion that was felt around Coors Field as Todd Helton not only homered, but delivered a sacrifice fly and RBI double as well. It was a vintage Todd Helton performance in that respect, and a first class sendoff that included an appearance by former Tennessee Volunteers football teammate and current Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
In the ninth inning, Helton's young children ran on the field once more as he prepared for his final inning in the field. Their mission: Steal first base and bring it home for dad's mantle. That moment drew another heartfelt response from the crowd.
When it was over, Helton capped his special evening with one final lap around the stadium, shaking hands with fans, and even Red Sox players who hung around to take the moment in.
It was a great night that was handled perfectly by the Rockies, their fans, and even the Red Sox, who paid Helton the ultimate respect before, during and after the game. It's a night Rockies fans won't soon forget.