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Helton in awe of sluggers
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07/12/2004  5:00 PM ET
Helton in awe of sluggers
Rockies first baseman looks up to legends
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
Todd Helton is excited to be in the presence of legendary hitters. (Daria DeBuono/
After making the All-Star Game for the fifth consecutive year, you might think Todd Helton is used to all the festivities. Not even close.

"I'm excited to be here. Every year offers something new," commented Helton. "Seeing all the 500-home run hitters will be really cool. I look forward to hopefully getting a chance to meet some of these guys."

While Helton is known as one of the game's premier batting average hitters, he was enamored Monday by the presence of baseball's long ball legends, running through the names and shaking his head in awe. All 10 former players still living who hit at least 500 home runs during their careers will be on hand at the game.

"I'm a big Mike Schmidt fan. He was one of my favorites growing up, so I'm excited to see him."

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle hopes Helton doesn't get too caught up in all the home run excitement.

2004 All-Star Game

"He went through a period where he wasn't hitting home runs. He's a very prideful hitter. There'd be that little man talking to him: 'You need to hit some home runs.' And his swing gets big, he gets long, he starts spinning on balls, he gets away from his strength of driving the ball to the big part of the park. Conversely, he gets back to that, and now he hits the ball hard and everything comes together."

Helton got back to driving the ball to the "big part" of the park in June. Over the last 30 days Helton has hit at a .361 clip to raise his batting average to .348, fourth best in Major Leagues -- a customary position for the Rockies' first baseman, who has the highest career batting average (.338) among active players.

Over the years, Helton has transitioned from being a star prospect to an established star. Yet Helton remains a student of the game, regularly seeking out former players to talk hitting. Just this past weekend in San Diego he talked about the mechanics of hitting with Dave Winfield. One of Helton's fondest baseball chats was years ago when he had the good fortune of chatting it up with Schmidt.

"I had occasion to talk to him behind the cage one time and it's something I'll never forget. Hopefully I'll get the chance to talk to maybe Willie Mays."

As far as what Helton hopes to accomplish this weekend, he has modest goals. He figures he'll get one at-bat and probably one good pitch to swing at. If he goes deep, he may have to give some credit to his childhood idol.

Brian Hutchinson is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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