Helton was in town this week to have his No. 3 retired by the UT baseball program. The official retirement ceremony took place during Wednesday’s Leadoff Banquet and made the three-time All-America honoree the first player in the 98-year history of the program to receive such a high honor.
“What better way to start the season than having Todd Helton speak to the team?” UT head coach Todd Raleigh said. “He played in this stadium, dressed in this locker room and hit in these cages. He started out here and worked his way to being one of the game’s best players. He sets a great example for this team.”
A five-time MLB All-Star, Helton led the Colorado Rockies to the franchise’s first-ever World Series appearance this past fall, and he spoke to the Vols Friday about things such as the mental approach to the game and the characteristics of a winning team.
“You all can beat a lot of teams in this conference if you just know you can beat them,” Helton said. “Play with confidence and play for one another.
“To me, when I’m done playing, I don’t care about the stats and all that stuff. I just want them to say ‘Todd Helton was a good teammate.’ Try to pick up one guy every day, and see what you can do to make him better. And in turn, your whole team becomes better.”
Helton also stressed the importance of never disrespecting the game by not putting forth one’s best effort 100 percent of the time.
“Having Todd Helton speak just to us was one of the coolest experiences ever,” current Vols third baseman Cody Brown said. “He plays the game exactly the way it’s supposed to be played.
“And personally, I can really relate to him because I’m a country boy just like him!”
Tennessee has three weeks to prepare for the season-opener Feb. 22 against Morehead State. For season tickets, call (865) 656-1200.