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Helling retires from MLB

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Helling retires from MLB
Fargo North Dakota 101 5th Street North 58102

Rick Helling had a chance to play another major-league season with the Florida Marlins or Cincinnati Reds. But he says he got a better offer.


He's going to coach his son's Little League team in the suburban Twin Cities this summer.

Helling, the North Dakota native and Fargo Shanley graduate who pitched 12 seasons in Major League Baseball, said Monday he's retiring to spend more time with his family.

"It's been long enough," he said. "It's time to be a dad."

The 36-year-old had a 93-81 record for five teams. Helling's best season was 1998, when he went 20-7 for the Texas Rangers. A durable starter at the peak of his career, Helling's last two seasons were spent as a reliever with the Milwaukee Brewers.

He was a part of two World Series winning teams with the 1997 and 2003 Marlins.

"It was a good career. I got out of it as much as I wanted to get out of it," Helling said. "I was on two World Series teams, a lot of good teams, a lot of playoff teams."

Helling said the highlight of his career was making it back to the big leagues after a broken leg derailed him in 2004. He missed the entire 2004 season and wasn't recalled to the majors until late in the 2005 season with Milwaukee.

Helling suffered a broken right leg when he was hit by a line drive in spring training with the Minnesota Twins. He called that episode the lowest point of his career.

"To go from thinking I'm going to be the fourth starter for my hometown team, to suffer that break was very disappointing," Helling said. "We were building a home down here, I was going to pitch in front of family and friends. It was too good to be true, and it turned out that way.

"I've always wondered what would've happened if I hadn't taken that line drive off my leg."

Helling said he could've gone to spring training with the Marlins or Reds in a couple of weeks, but after thinking about it for much of the winter decided over the weekend to retire. He and his wife, Tomasa, have three children aged 6, 4 and 1. Their boy, Randy, will be 7 in two weeks and will start Little League in the summer.

Helling, after getting permission from Randy, said he'll be a coach.

"I can still play, but then I could maybe still play when I'm 45," Helling said. "I don't want to look up when I'm older and realize my kids are 15, 16 years old and I've missed them growing up."

Helling grew up in Lakota, N.D., and graduated from Fargo Shanley. He played American Legion baseball in Fargo.

Originally signed as a football player by the University of North Dakota, Helling went to Stanford to play baseball. He was Texas' first-round draft pick in 1992 and pitched for the United States in that year's Olympics.