FORMER MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER
UT Knoxville, ’95
Part of the Tennessee Alumnus’ 100 Distinguished Alumni feature.
Todd Helton has come home.
Named the 1995 National Collegiate Baseball player of the year, Knoxville native Helton is one of the best sluggers in UT history. Alumni recall Helton was part of the team that finished third in the College World Series.
“That is one of my greatest memories,” says Helton. “I made a lot of friends at Tennessee, a lot I still talk to. Being in baseball gave me time to grow up and prepared me for life.”
Helton was a dual-sport athlete at UT Knoxville, lettering in baseball and football, where he was backed by future Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning. “The discipline football gave me was something I carried on in professional baseball,” he says.
In his 1997 debut for the Colorado Rockies, Helton recorded his first hit and homerun. He would conclude his Major League Baseball career with 369 home runs and 2,519 hits.
Helton’s best season came in 2000, when he blasted a National League season record 216 hits and led the major leagues in batting average, RBI, doubles, total bases, extra base hits and slugging percentage. He became only the fourth player in National League history to lead in both batting average and RBIs. He was named the Associated Press Major League Baseball player of the year. His prolific career also included the Hank Aaron Award and being named an all-star five times.
Now retired after 17 years, Helton has returned to Knoxville as director of player development for the UT