ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Adrian Beltre had a feeling like none other he has experienced on a baseball field when he saw his three children coming toward him. Then they kept running to the wall in right-center field.
Only after helping unveil a logo commemorating Beltre’s 3,000th career hit did the kids return to hug their father , the 38-year-old Texas Rangers third baseman who had just become the first player from the Dominican Republic, and 31st overall, in the major leagues to do that.
“What happened today after the hit, it was the best moment in my life,” Beltre said. “When I saw that, I felt like I was in the cloud, because I really saw the joy in their faces. It was a nice moment to enjoy with them, my family, my wife.”
Beltre reached the milestone in the fourth inning of a 10-6 loss Sunday to Baltimore Orioles, who got homers from Jonathan Schoop and Welington Castillo in a five-run fifth.
“It’s an honor to be here for it. Especially, we couldn’t have drawn it up better where we win and we get a chance to see that,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Everybody in the game has a lot of respect for him, not only statistically but the way he’s handled success over the years.”
The Rangers were already down 4-0 when Beltre, who finished his 2,771st career game 1 for 5, had a hard hit down the line — fittingly past third base — for a double.
A banner was unfurled high above straightaway center field congratulating him. His teammates, who had crowded on the rail of the 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 family members, including Beltre’s parents.
“We have a lot of great baseball players in the Dominican Republic, and I’m proud to be one of them,” Beltre said, calling the moment even more special being able to share it with his father on what was Father’s Day in the Dominican Republic.
Now in his 20th big league season, he is only the third player who is primarily a third baseman in the 3,000-hit club, joining Hall of Famers George Brett and Wade Boggs.
The milestone came only minutes after former Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez finished his induction speech at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Barring unusual circumstances, getting 3,000 hits has traditionally been a ticket to the Hall.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister, who referred to Beltre as the “next Hall of Famer” said July 30 will forever be one that Texas fans will remember as “Ranger Day.”
“Like we told him earlier, he means so much to this organization, to this team, a mentor to every single player and coach,” Banister said. “We thanked him for allowing us to tag along this journey with him, and be part of it.”
A pre-recorded message from Rodriguez in Cooperstown congratulating Beltre for 3,000 hits was played on the stadium video boards after the fourth ended.
“I just think it’s amazing,” said Jeff Bagwell, who was inducted with Rodriguez. “He’s just an amazing baseball player, arguably one of the best third basemen of all time. He can do everything. 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 hits.
Beltre 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.
Wade Miley (5-9) went five innings and one of the four hits he allowed being to Beltre, who grounded a 3-0 pitch that went past the bag and then ricocheted off the side wall into left field. The Orioles lefty also got one of his five strikeouts when Beltre went down swinging in the second inning.
“As a fan of the game, what a career that guy’s had. I wasn’t trying to let him get a hit by any means, but at the same time as a fan, this had to happen,” said Miley, who joined his teammates on the field applauding for Beltre. “He’s one of those guys that as a kid you watch. That’s the kind of respect I have for him.”
Rougned Odor homered twice and drove in five runs for Texas. His two-run single in the fourth scored Beltre, who reached on a wild pitch after striking out in the eighth before Odor’s second homer. Nomar Mazara also went deep.
Orioles closer Zach Britton came on with two on in the ninth, striking out Mazara and getting Beltre on a fielder’s choice grounder to end the game . Britton has converted an AL-record 57 consecutive save opportunities, eight this season.
Beltre’s first hit came as a 19-year-old rookie with the Los Angeles 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 as a free agent 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.
It 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. He is also a five-time Gold Glove winner who had a career-best and franchise-record 62 consecutive games at third base without an error before a throwing error Saturday night — and another Sunday.
“Never in my life did I think about collecting 3,000 hits, playing 20 years, hitting 400-plus homers. I never expected that, I never saw myself doing that,” Beltre said. “When you play every day … and do the best you can to help your ball club, sometimes you accumulate numbers.”
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