Tennessee honors Helton, retires his baseball No. 3

Updated: January 31, 2008, 2:13 PM ET
Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton told Tennessee Volunteers pitcher Aaron Everett it was OK to continue wearing Helton's old jersey number, but Everett politely declined.

Helton's No. 3 has been permanently retired by Tennessee -- the first baseball number so enshrined by the Volunteers.

More than 1,300 people, including family, friends and former teammates, turned out Wednesday night to mark the occasion and honor the Knoxville native, who played for Tennessee in the 1990s.

The mayor proclaimed it "Todd Helton Day," and a street was named "Todd Helton Drive."

"I was worried I wouldn't be able to convey what it really means to me to have my number retired," Helton told the crowd. "I am truly honored to be sitting in front of you and have that jersey with the University of Tennessee on it."

Everett, a junior, has worn No. 3 the past two seasons. Helton said he was fine with Everett finishing out his time at Tennessee in No. 3, and shook his hand.

But at Helton's banquet Wednesday, Everett was wearing No. 9.

Helton wore No. 2 as the starting quarterback on the football team, until an injury gave Indianapolis Colts star Peyton Manning his shot at the starting job as a freshman in 1994.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press