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Martin Helmig

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Martin Theo Helmig
  • Bats Left, Throws Right

Martin Helmig is the son of Claus Helmig and nephew of Jürgen Helmig and was a second-generation baseball star in Germany. He was a two-time Pitcher of the Year and one-time MVP.

In 1975, he was on the German junior national baseball team. Helmig won a German junior hockey championship in 1977. He played hockey from 1978-1980. In 1981, he came to the US to play college baseball. After two years at the College of the Desert, he moved to Riverside Community College in 1983.

In 1984, Helmig attended minor league spring training with the Chicago White Sox and played for Anzi in Serie A1, hitting .286/.382/.414 in 9 games at third base, but making 11 errors. Helmig did not pitch in Italy. In 1985, Martin pitched for Haarlem Nicols and helped them win the Hoofdklasse title. He was the Haarlem Nicols ace pitcher in 1986 and also played in the European Cup, where Nicols finished third. He played for the German team in the 1986 European Championship B-Pool, hitting .400/.500/.800 and going 2-0 with a 1.26 ERA, striking out 26 and walking 2 in 14 1/3 IP.

Helmig was a player-coach for the 1987 Köln Cardinals, helping them to second place in Bundesliga, and also spent the minor league spring training with the Baltimore Orioles. In 1992, Martin was on the Mannheim Amigos when they won the Bundesliga title and won MVP honors. He starred in the 1992 European Championship B-Pool, hitting .462/.516/.846 with 3 homers, 13 runs and 13 RBI in 6 games; on the mound, he allowed one run in 7 innings in a win. With the victory, Germany moved up to the A-Pool for 1993.

In 1993, Helmig helped Mannheim finish third in Bundesliga and was named Pitcher of the Year. He batted .318/.364/.464 in the 1993 European Championship; on the mound, he allowed 10 runs in 5 2/3 IP, allowing 9 hits and 8 walks. He moved to the Leonberg Lobsters in 1994.

Helmig joined the Trier Cardinals in 1995, was again Pitcher of the Year and helped Trier win the Bundesliga title. He produced at a .389/.542/.778 clip with 8 runs in six games; he gave up 7 runs in 2 innings as a pitcher and took a loss.

Helmig's Cardinals won another title in 1996. He also was a coach for the German national team that year. He also joined the Atlanta Braves as an international coach in spring training. In 1997, Helmig moved to the Paderborn Untouchables, who started one of the greatest dynasties in German history, winning all but one title from 1999-2005.

Helmig hit .451/.500/.707 in 1998, finishing 4th in the Northern division of Bundesliga in average and 5th in slugging. He was one of the first three members of the German Baseball Hall of Fame, following Roland Hoffmann and the same year as Stephan Jäger. In 1999, he was named the Athlete of the Year for the city of Paderborn.

Helmig became head coach of Paderborn during their dynastic years but resigned after the 2007 season, when they failed to win the title for the second year in a row. He was replaced by Stefan Fechtig. Helmig was hired to manage Buchbinder Legionaere for 2008.

As a player, Helmig hit .395/.505/.684 for the national team with 6 homers, 29 runs and 24 RBI in 22 games. As a pitcher, he was 3-1 with a 5.28 ERA. Through 2007, he is the all-time national team leader in average, 36 points ahead of #2 Jens Heymer. He is tied with Dominik Wulf for second in home runs, one behind Frank Jäger. He is 13th in RBI, tied for 13th in hits (30), 9th in runs, 11 in walks (15), first in slugging (86 points ahead of Heymer), 2nd in OBP, tied for 5th in wins (along with his father and former minor leaguer Tim Henkenjohann) and 8th in WHIP (1.31).

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