COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — Todd Helton and Joe Mauer will become just the sixth pair of players inducted together into the Hall of Fame after spending their big league careers with one organization.
“A lot of things had to go right,” Helton said Thursday during a news conference in the Hall’s plaque gallery alongside Mauer and fellow electee Adrián Beltré. “Obviously contract and money plays into all of that. … You bite your tongue a little bit and you go out and you play hard every day. You try to make the team better and you lead, and if they want you there, great. … I am so happy that I got to play my whole career in Colorado, where I love the town and I love the people.”
There are no decisions for the Hall to make about the caps on the plaques of Helton, who spent 17 seasons with the Rockies, and Mauer, who played 15 seasons for the Minnesota Twins. The Hall will have to decide what to do for Beltré after a career that included eight years with the Texas Rangers, seven with the Los Angeles Dodgers, five with the Seattle Mariners and one with the Boston Red Sox.
The Hall has made the cap decisions since ahead of the 2002 induction.
Just 58 of 273 players elected to the Hall spent their entire career with one team. The only prior single-team duos inducted together were Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford (1974), Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrzemski (1989), George Brett and Robin Yount (1999), Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. (2007), and Mariano Rivera and Edgar Martinez (2019).
Helton was nearly traded to the Red Sox in 2007, the same year he helped Colorado reach the World Series against Boston.
“From my understanding, it was a done deal and Keli McGregor, who was our team president at the time, vetoed it at the last second,” Helton said. “And I am glad he did. Going to the World Series with Colorado meant more than winning it with somebody else.”
Mauer grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and was drafted first overall by his hometown team in 2001.
“I always felt that we had a chance to win there,” said Mauer, the 2009 AL MVP and a three-time AL batting champion. “Every day I would go in, along with my teammates and try to do that, to be the best version of myself. ... It’s a special place, a special community and I am happy to be a part of it.”
Mauer stood behind the dais holding 5-year-old son Chip and admiring tributes to the initial Hall class of Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner and Babe Ruth.
“One of his favorite movies right now is ‘Sandlot’ and they talk about The Great Bambino,” Mauer said. “I am excited for myself to learn even more history about the game, but to also have him learn more about the great players before me and it starts with that first class right there, so it’s pretty special.”
Beltré (95.1%) and Mauer (76.1%) were elected Tuesday by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in their initial ballot appearances and Helton (79.7%) was voted in on the sixth try, receiving four more votes than needed for the 75% threshold. They will be inducted July 21 along with former major league manager Jim Leyland, who was elected last month by the contemporary baseball era committee.
“Every corner here is impressive, but the one that I was glad to see and shocked to see was Juan Marichal,” Beltré said of the plaques. “Being a little kid from the Dominican, that was the first big name that I heard in baseball and the first big leaguer that I thought was like a god to us in the Dominican. Everything you heard was about Juan Marichal growing up and I remember every kid trying to equal his famous leg kick.”
Beltré became the fifth Dominican elected after Marichal, Pedro Martínez, Vladimir Guerrero and David Ortiz.
“There is big pride,” Beltré said. “I know there are going to be a lot coming, especially with (Albert) Pujols coming soon.”
Beltré credited former big league manager Felipe Alou, a family friend, and scouts Ralph Avila and Pablo Peguero for his being able to sign with the Dodgers as a 15-year-old in 1994.
“They were the men that gave me a chance to become a baseball player,” Beltré said. “They believed in me, they signed me at 15 years old and they saw something in me that I didn’t believe at the time.”
Helton will join former Rockies teammate Larry Walker in the Hall. Helton was nervous meeting the Hall of Famer Brett, but is eager to spend time with him, Mike Schmidt and other members this summer.
“I looked up to those guys,” Helton said. “They were like my heroes. I am looking forward to golfing with them, hanging with them and being part of the family.”
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