It finally happened on a hot and humid afternoon in July. Adrian Beltre made history.
The Rangers third baseman need just one hit on Sunday to join the exclusive 3,000-hit club. In the bottom of the fourth inning, magic was made.
Beltre laced an RBI double to left, becoming the 31st player to collect 3,000 career hits, which usually is a lock for the Hall of Fame. He is also the first Dominican-born player in major league history to collect 3,000 career hits.
“What happened today after the hit, it’s been the best moment in my life that I didn’t know how to feel,” said Beltre after the game. “Just the fact that today is Father’s Day in the Dominican, having done it on a day like this in the Dominican is quite an accomplishment for me.”
By the way, the Rangers lost to the Baltimore Orioles 10-6 but the game itself was the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. At least it was on this day in history.
After the hit, teammates joined Beltre on the field to congratulate him, with some of the Orioles players joining in. Beltre’s three kids ran past him and out to right-center field, unveiled the “Adrian Beltre 3000 Career Hits” sign, then sprinted back towards second base to embrace their father.
“I had no idea what was going on,” added Beltre. “I saw them running past me, I thought they were coming to hug me but just passed me. They went to right field and I saw them pull that 3,000 sign. It was a nice moment. I saw the joy in their faces. My kids and my wife have been so supportive over the years, this moment was for them.”
Beltre also became just the third player to reach 3,000 hits playing primarily at the third base position, joining Hall of Famers George Brett and Wade Boggs in that category.
Of course, when Beltre stepped up to the podium during the postgame press conference, he brought his trademark humor with him.
“I’m here so I won’t be fined,” said Beltre, breaking out his best Marshawn Lynch impersonation. After a few moments of silence, Beltre started laughing and added “sorry, I had to do that.” He’s got jokes people.
Beltre is in his 20th season in the majors. He began his career with the Dodgers and played seven seasons in Los Angeles. Beltre then departed to Seattle and spent the next five years with the Mariners. After a one-year stint with the Boston Red Sox, he signed with the Rangers in 2011. This was a moment that Beltre admitted never crossed his mind when he started out with the Dodgers.
“Not even close,” said Beltre. “I wanted to be in the big leagues to compete. Never in my life did I ever think about collecting 3,000 hits. Playing 20 years, hitting 400 plus homers, I never expected that.”
Now at age 38, Beltre still is going strong and signed through next season. Anything after that is still up in the air.
“I’m going to go on a year after year basis,” said Beltre. “My main reason to stay is that I want to win a World Series. Obviously, if I don’t win it in the next three years and I don’t feel like my body is holding to play at the level I want to play and produce, I might just go home.”
Sunday was a big day for the Texas organization. The historic moment happened moments after former Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Pudge had joked that he hoped Beltre would wait until Sunday to hit No. 3,000 so he could announce it at the podium during the induction ceremony.
That wish almost came true.
For those in attendance, it was a moment they will never forget, even in the Texas heat.
“He means so much to this organization, to this team,” said manager Jeff Banister. “There are things I learn every single day from him that are irreplaceable. We thank him for allowing us to tag along on this journey with him and be part of it. To be able to share that with him was emotional for a number of guys, if not all of us. In this game, those times are special. When it’s an individual achievement like this, they are incredible to watch, to be a part of. I know I’ll never forget it.”
Also important to note, the Fort Worth Zoo named a baby giraffe Beltre after the newest member of the 3,000-hit club.
It’s just one of the perks that comes with the territory.
Beltre is now one of two active players in the 3,000-hit club with Miami Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki being the other. Beltre is also tied for 30th place on the hits list with Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente.