ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) 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 Sunday 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 center 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-center 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, 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 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.
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, New York. Barring unusual circumstances, getting 3,000 hits has traditionally 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. “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 now tied for 30th place on the hits list with Roberto Clemente. Al Kaline (3,007) and Wade Boggs (3,010) are next up on the list.
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 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.
“You don’t see many players that universally respected and liked, and everything he does on the field is sincere,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said during the series. “I don’t know if anybody in the game has more universal respect from the opposition. … I love to watch him play. It seems like he’s playing his first game in Little League.”
Showalter was the Texas manager in May 2003 when Rafael Palmeiro hit his 500th career homer at the Rangers ballpark. Kenny Rogers threw a perfect game for Texas in 1994, the first year the stadium opened, and Sammy Sosa’s 600th career homer was hit there in 2007 when the slugger played for the Rangers against the Chicago Cubs.
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.
Along with his 3,000 hits, Beltre is a five-time Gold Glove third baseman. He had a career-best and franchise-record 62-game streak without at error at third base before a throwing error in Saturday night’s game.
The Rangers were playing the sixth game of a nine-game homestand that started with Beltre 11 hits from 3,000. He was 1 for 4 on Saturday night, grounding out twice after he led off the fourth inning with a single for his 2,999th career hit.