The Associated Press
ARLINGTON, Tex.–Adrian Beltre got his 3,000th career hit in a fitting way–a hard hit down the line past third base.
The 38-year-old Texas Rangers’ third baseman doubled yesterday to become the first player from the Dominican Republic, and 31st overall, to join the 3,000-hit club in the major leagues.
A banner was unfurled high above straightaway centre field congratulating Beltre after his hit in the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles.
His teammates, who had crowded on the rail of their first-base dugout to be as close as possible to the historic moment, flooded onto the field to celebrate with him.
Beltre’s two daughters and 10-year-old son, Adrian Jr., left their front-row seats near the dugout they had shared with other family members and ran to right-centre field.
The kids helped unveil a logo commemorating the accomplishment on the wall in front of the Rangers’ bullpen, then went and hugged their father on the infield dirt.
Beltre grounded a 3-0 pitch hard down the line and the ball ricocheted off the side wall and into left field.
The double came off lefty Wade Miley, who got Beltre out on a swinging strikeout in the second.
On an afternoon with temperatures in the 90s F, the sun-soaked crowd stood in anticipation and started cheering when Beltre was introduced in his 2,771st career game.
Now in his 20th big-league season, he’s only the third player who primarily is a third baseman in the 3,000-hit club, joining Hall-of-Famers George Brett and Wade Boggs.
Even Orioles’ players, including Miley, applauded the accomplishment.
The milestone came only minutes after former Rangers’ catcher Ivan Rodriguez finished his induction speech at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Barring unusual circumstances, getting 3,000 hits traditionally has been a ticket to the hall.
“It’s one of those days that as a Ranger, you’ll forever remember that this is, on the calendar year, Ranger Day,” manager Jeff Banister said before the game, referring to Beltre as the “next Hall-of-Famer.”
After the fourth inning, a pre-recorded message from Rodriguez in Cooperstown congratulating Beltre for 3,000 hits was played on the stadium video boards.
“I just think it’s amazing,” said Jeff Bagwell, who was inducted with Rodriguez yesterday.
“He’s just an amazing baseball player, arguably one of the best third basemen of all time.
“He can do everything,” Bagwell noted. “He plays hurt, he hits for average, he hits for power, drives in runs.
“He’s a great, great player.”
The only other current active player in the 3,000-hit club is Miami Marlins’ outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who is tied with Hall-of-Fame player Craig Biggio for 22nd all-time at 3,060.
Beltre now is tied for 30th place on the hits list with Roberto Clemente.
Al Kaline (3,007) and Boggs (3,010) are next up on the list.
Beltre’s first hit came as a 19-year-old rookie with the L.A. Dodgers on June 24, 1998, four years after they had signed him.
After seven seasons with the Dodgers, he spent five years in Seattle and one in Boston before joining the Rangers in 2011–the year he finally made it to a World Series.
The double was Beltre’s 1,111th hit with the Rangers, after 949 with the Dodgers, 751, with the Mariners, and 189 in his only season with the Red Sox before going to Texas as a free agent.
A power guy, he has never bunted for a hit.
Yesterday’s milestone hit also was Beltre’s 605th career double, matching Paul Molitor for 14th all-time.
That also matched Mel Ott for 20th with 5,041 total bases; and Beltre’s 454 homers are 38th on that list.
Along with his 3,000 hits, Beltre is a five-time Gold Glove third baseman.