Knoxville (WATE) – Standing near the dugout Friday afternoon, roughly 300 feet from the road that bears his name, Todd Helton admitted his return to baseball is as much for him as it is for the program.
“To be honest with you, retirement is hard,” Helton said. “I was mentally and physically prepared to retire for three years. It’s hard not really having anything to do. It’s not easy.”
The Knoxville native played high school ball at Central before a decorated Tennessee career that saw him win the 1995 Dick Howser Trophy as the nation’s best collegiate player. Now Helton’s back in the orange that has meant to so much to him, this tim,, as the Vols Director of Player Development.
“You want to have a purpose in life, you want to be driven,” Helton said. And retirement wasn’t cutting it for him.
“You go through a day and wonder what you’ve done. This is a way for me to hopefully… we’ve got fourteen freshman on the team; help some of these young guys, not only get better but go to the next level.”
Helton spent the entirety of his 17-year career with the Colorado Rockies.The five-time All-Star holds the club’s records for hits (2,519), home runs (369), doubles (592), walks (1,355), runs scored (1,401), RBI (1,406), and games played (2,247) among others.
According to UT Sports, in his “volunteer role” with the team, Helton is “responsible for maintaining alumni relations, assisting with on-campus recruiting, collaborating with UT’s coaching staff and helping Tennessee’s current players make informed decisions about pursuing professional baseball careers.”
And if the four-time Silver Slugger winner can add some juice to the program, it’s be a big win for Big Orange.