KNOXVILLE (UTSports.com) -- University of Tennessee athletics director Mike Hamilton and head baseball coach Todd Raleigh announced formal plans Tuesday to honor Todd Helton at the 2008 Tennessee Baseball Leadoff Banquet. The event will take place Wednesday, Jan. 30 at the Knoxville Convention Center at 6 p.m., and will be highlighted by the retirement of Helton’s No. 3 jersey as well as his induction into the Tennessee Baseball Hall of Fame.
Individual tickets for the banquet are $35, and corporate tables (10 seats) are $300. Tickets can be purchased by calling (865) 974-9079, but space is limited. Helton will be the featured speaker, and the event also includes an autograph session and silent auction.
Helton led the Colorado Rockies to the 2007 World Series in his 10th Major League season. The Rockies were defeated in the World Series by the Boston Red Sox, but Colorado’s remarkable charge into the postseason took the baseball world by storm and gave Helton his first taste of big league playoff baseball.
In 11 postseason games, Helton collected nine hits, drove in a pair of runs and scored six runs. Five of his hits came in the World Series, during which he led the Rockies with a .333 average.
Helton starred on the diamond at UT from 1993-95 and is the most decorated and arguably the greatest player in the 98-year history of the Volunteers program. The Knoxville native’s legendary achievements at both the collegiate and professional levels are unparalleled by any player to ever don the Orange & White.
“We look forward to welcoming Todd back for our baseball banquet and the opportunity to retire No. 3 in his honor,” Hamilton said. “Todd excelled here in the field, on the mound and at the plate. And his leadership served as a catalyst for the success we had in the mid 1990s.
“It’s fitting that his should be the first number retired. And to have it happen as he has just won his first National League Championship and made his first World Series appearance brings extra attention to both his successes and this great university.”
Helton’s individual accolades at Tennessee include being named a three-time All-America, the 1995 National and Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and the 1995 SEC Male Athlete of the Year. His dominant batting and pitching prowess powered the Vols to three straight NCAA Mideast Regionals, back-to-back SEC titles in 1994 and 1995 as well as the 1995 NCAA College World Series.
He finished his three-year career as UT’s all-time leader in 12 different offensive statistical categories and still holds the school mark for home runs (38) and RBI (238). On the mound, he posted 19 wins, a 2.24 ERA and a school-record 23 saves. He amazingly threw 47 2/3 scoreless innings against 26 teams in 1994—another UT record.
“Todd Helton epitomizes what I want Tennessee baseball to be,” Raleigh said. “His work ethic, drive and desire to win are unmatched. As a head coach, I couldn’t think of a better role model to represent UT baseball.”
The Rockies made Helton the eighth overall pick in the 1995 MLB draft, and the five-time All-Star stands alongside Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig as the only players in history to post seven straight seasons with 25 home runs, 95 RBI and a batting average higher than .315. And his 44 doubles this year made him the only player in MLB history to record at least 35 doubles in each of his first 10 seasons.
Helton graduated from Knoxville’s Central High School and also played football at Tennessee, appearing in 12 games as a quarterback from 1992-94 and throwing four touchdown passes.