DENVER — The Colorado Rockies and star first baseman Todd Helton are facing the harsh reality on the eve of his farewell season that the longtime face of the franchise now has a police mug shot.
The five-time All-Star was arrested about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Denver suburb of Thornton and charged with drunken driving and careless driving.
In a statement released by the Rockies, Helton said he’s embarrassed and apologized to his family, the team and the community.
“I hold myself to a high standard and take my responsibility as a public figure very seriously,” he said, adding, “I humbly ask your forgiveness.”
Helton was arrested after someone called police to report a drunken driver, police said. They say Helton’s blood-alcohol content was over the legal limit but they haven’t released the number.
Helton is a career .320 hitter. The 39-year-old played only 69 games last year before undergoing hip surgery in August. Afterward, the smooth-fielding first baseman known as much for his glove work as for his big bat considered retiring but decided last month to return for the final season of his contract.
“We were extremely disappointed to learn that Todd was arrested this morning. This type of behavior is taken very seriously by our organization,” the Rockies said in a statement. “We know that he clearly understands the seriousness of his poor decision, the harm that could have been inflicted on others and the embarrassment his mistake has caused to himself, his family, the Colorado Rockies organization and to Major League Baseball.
“Todd is taking full accountability for his actions with his family, his fans and the organization. The man we have grown to know has strong values that are grounded in his family and hard work. Todd clearly understands the severity of the situation.”
Helton is the most accomplished player in Rockies history, collecting 2,420 hits, 354 home runs and 1,345 RBIs over his career.
He debuted in 1997 and took over the following season as Colorado’s full-time first baseman following Andres Galarraga’s departure to Atlanta as a free agent.
He and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning are good friends after playing football together at the University of Tennessee in the 1990s. They recently went on a hunting trip after the Broncos’ unexpected early exit from the NFL playoffs.
Manning has credited Helton and the Rockies with helping him recover from a series of neck operations that led to his departure from Indianapolis by allowing him to work out at Coors Field during the NFL lockout two summers ago.
Helton, who lives in Thornton year-round, was driving a Ford F-150 pickup at the time of his arrest early Wednesday, police said. He was taken to the police department where he was booked, issued a summons and released to a friend, Thornton police spokesman Matt Barnes said.
“Last evening I exercised poor judgment and was charged with drinking and driving after driving to a gas station near my house,” Helton said in a statement released through the team. “I am very sorry and embarrassed by my actions. I hold myself to a high standard and take my responsibility as a public figure very seriously. My entire career I have worked to set a positive example for my family and in our community and I fell far short of this standard.
“I sincerely ask my family, the Colorado Rockies organization, Major League Baseball and the community to accept my apology. I make no excuses and accept full responsibility for my actions. I humbly ask your forgiveness.”
The Rockies, under new manager Walt Weiss, begin reporting to spring training this weekend as they try to bounce back from a 64-98 season.