Jürgen C. Helmig
- Bats Left, Throws Left
Jürgen Helmig was one of Germany's top baseball stars of the 20th Century. His brother Claus Helmig and nephew Martin Helmig were also prominent German players; his great-nephew Lou Helmig played as well.
Jürgen Helmig was the first baseman in the first game ever played by the German national team (his brother Claus was the pitcher). In the 1954 European Championship, their first tournament, he went 1 for 9 with 2 walks, a run and a RBI as Germany dropped both of their games. He had 20 putouts, an assist and an error. During the 1955 European Championship, the teenager was again 1 for 9 with a run and a RBI, this time with one walk. He also won a game on the mound (against either France or Italy), with 9 K, 6 H, 7 BB and 4 R (3 ER) in 8 IP. Germany won the Bronze Medal. Signed by the Baltimore Orioles, he was assigned the Thomson Orioles but it is unclear if he ever played in a game in the minors (his brother Claus also signed with Baltimore and did appear in the US).
Helmig was 0 for 2 with a walk and a run in a backup role in the 1956 European Championship (Josef Diepold was apparently the starter at 1B). In the 1957 European Championship, he started three of Germany's four games on the mound (brother Claus had the other start), going 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA. He allowed only 10 hits and 5 walks in 22 innings. Germany won the Silver Medal for the only time in a European Championship (as of 2015, they have also never won a Gold). Offensive stats are only available for one game (1 for 4). Not only was he their top pitcher, but he also served as assistant coach.
Jürgen turned 20 in 1958. He again did the brunt of the work on the mound for Germany in the 1958 European Championship, starting two of three games and completing both and relieving brother Claus for the final 2 2/3 IP in their other game. He beat Spain and also took one loss, while posting a 0.87 ERA and fanning 15 in 20 2/3 IP while walking just four. He also was their top offensive performer, going 3 for 11 with two homers (Karl Phillipp had the only other German dinger) and a team-high 3 runs and 3 RBI. Germany got the Bronze.
He was on Germany's roster for the 1960 European Championship but did not get into a game. In the 1962 European Championship, Helmig was 4 for 11 with six walks, six runs and two RBI. He tied Walter Schmid for the team lead in walks and tied brother Claus for the run lead. He did not pitch much or well (1 R in 2 IP but 7 BB) as Claus Helmig and Helmut Oppelt pitched 27 of Germany's 30 innings. Germany won Bronze in the 1965 European Championship; Jürgen was 2 for 14 with 3 walks and 3 runs, tying Hans Grünzinger for the team run lead. He apparently had moved to outfield by this time, as he had 3 putouts and 1 error in four games.
In the 1967 European Championship, the veteran was 2 for 15 with a double, 3 runs, 3 RBI and a walk. He went 3 for 16 with a double, two walks, two runs and two RBI in the 1969 European Championship. He was 4 for 15 with a walk, four runs and two RBI in the 1971 European Championship as Germany won their 5th Bronze.
Helmig was with Germany when they made the 1972 Amateur World Series, their first Amateur World Series. They lost every game and he hit .087/.106/.109 with two runs and two RBI in 15 games, while making six errors and fielded .867. He pitched for Germany for the first time in a decade, allowing 3 hits, 3 walks and 5 runs while retiring no one. He still managed to tie for the team RBI lead; his stats were not too far from his teammates (295 team OPS, .875 fielding percentage). He also was in the 1973 FEMBA Amateur World Series but statistics are unavailable.
Jürgen hit .200/.250/.200 in the 1975 European Championship. Germany won the Bronze, the last time they would do so until 2010; they wouldn't even make another European Championship for 12 years. In the 1984 European Championship B-Pool, Helmig was still representing Germany in his mid-40s, 30 years after his first German team appearance. He did well even at his older age, going 3 for 5 with two dingers and six RBI, tying Frank Jäger for the team lead in home runs and RBI.
Helmig had played for Germany in their first 15 international competitions, covering 1954-1984. In 2006, he was inducted into the German Baseball Hall of Fame.
Through 2010, he was on the German national team career leaderboard (for tournaments for which stats are available) in games played (67, tied for second with his brother and Roland Hoffmann, 8 behind Jendrick Speer), European Championships (12, tied for first with his brother and Hoffmann), tied for 8th in home runs (4, even with Kai Gronauer and Jim Menzel), tied for 12th in RBI (22, even with Georg Bull and Claus), hits (33, tied for 12th with Jens Heymer), runs (32, 6th, between Speer and Schmid), walks (21, 4th, behind Speer, Stephan Jäger and Schmid), steals (13, tied with Grünzinger), ERA (2.56, 4th, behind Enorbel Marquez, Menzel and Manuel Möller), strikeouts (32, tied for 10th with Möller), wins (4, tied for 4th with Möller), innings pitched (55 2/3, 8th, between Klaus Knüttel and Oppelt) and WHIP (1.14, 2nd, .10 behind Möller). He had hit .181/.266/.264 and fielded .927 for Germany.