TAHLEQUAH – Northeastern State Baseball alumnus Ryan Helsley had his jersey number officially retired by the RiverHawk baseball program on Nov. 5 in a pregame ceremony at Thomas C. Rousey Field. 

The ceremony took place prior to game four of the NSU Baseball Fall World Series. Helsley’s number 8 jersey is the first ever baseball jersey retired by the school. Helsley’s number has not been worn by an NSU player since Helsley was selected in the fifth round of the 2015 draft.

“It is with great pleasure we retire Ryan Helsley's number. He is the first in NSU Baseball history to have this honor” Head Coach James Cullinane said. “Ryan has been a great representative of Northeastern State Baseball, and he’s had a sensational career in Major League Baseball as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. I’ve always appreciated Ryan for what he has meant to NSU, Tahlequah and the Cherokee Nation. In the off-season, Ryan has been a constant presence in our locker room. His interactions with players at practice, in the weight room and even traveling with the team to a road series last year have been invaluable to the program.”

Helsley pitched for the RiverHawks from 2014-2015, where he made 21 starts and compiled a 14-8 record. In 2015, he was fifth in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (13.4) and led the MIAA with 95 punch-outs. Helsley also threw three complete games and tallied 151 strikeouts. He was the lone underclassman to earn a spot on the 2015 All-MIAA First Team and was named to the 2014 All-MIAA Second Team as a freshman.

Helsley was the first player from the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, the second player from the state of Oklahoma selected and the fifth player in all of NCAA Division II to be selected when the Cardinals called his name.

Helsley completed his fourth season with the Cardinals and is the first former NSU student-athlete to play in the MLB All-Star Game and make the MLB Postseason.

“It means a lot to be recognized as the first to be retired. I never really thought that was a possibility or knew that it was coming,” Helsley said. “But it’s honestly a great gesture, and it’s a true honor to be able to represent NSU and the community of Tahlequah forever now.”