Despite what should have been a demoralizing 10-6 loss for a Texas Rangers side that’s looking in from the outside at playoff contention, the Globe Life Park in Arlington was all smiles on Sunday. That’s because Adrian Beltré ripped a 4th-inning pitch down the third base line for a historic double: his 3,000 career hit. With what turned out to be a standing double, Beltré hit himself into baseball lore, becoming the first Dominican-born and fourth Latino–after Roberto Clemente, Rafael Palmeiro, and Alex Rodriguez–to reach the elusive 3,000 hit milestone.
With the milestone came a heartwarming show of appreciation from those present for this piece of baseball history: the 38-year-old third baseman was greeted with raucous cheers and high-fives, while his three kids sprinted to right-center field in order to unveil a commemorative decal made just for Beltré, who became the 31st player overall to crack the 3,000 hit barrier.
“What happened today after the hit, it was the best moment in my life,” Beltré said afterwards. “When I saw that, I felt like I was in the clouds because I really saw the joy in their faces. It was a nice moment to enjoy with them, my family, my wife.”
Beltré was especially excited to be the first Dominican-born player to reach the feat. “We have a lot of great baseball players in the Dominican Republic, and I’m proud to be one of them,” Beltre said. He also commented that the moment was even more special than most thought, because he was able to share it with his father on what was Father’s Day in the Dominican Republic.
Beltré is incredibly well respected by his peers for always playing the game with passion, and that respect shined through in post-game comments. Orioles manager Buck Showalter praised Beltré, saying that “everybody in the game has a lot of respect for him, not only statistically but the way he’s handled success over the years.” That sentiment was shared by Rangers manager Jeff Bannister: “Like we told him earlier, he means so much to this organization, to this team, a mentor to every single player and coach. We thanked him for allowing us to tag along this journey with him and be part of it.”
Now in his 20th season, Beltré became just the third primary third basemen to hit for 3,000 hits, joining Hall of Famers George Brett and Wade Boggs. The double was Beltré’s 1,111 hit with the Rangers, after hitting 949 with the Dodgers, 751 with the Mariners, and 189 in his only season with the Red Sox. And while there was no doubts about his own Hall of Fame credentials, Sunday’s hit put a nice cherry on the top of the career sundae. He’s not even done yet; Beltré has one more year left on his contract, and he hasn’t declined at all this season, despite his advanced age.
“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 post-game. “When you play every day and do the best you can to help your ball club, sometimes you accumulate numbers.”