Top 10 moments of Beltré's career

3,000 hits, one-knee World Series homer highlight his HOF career

January 25th, 2024

Over 21 Major League seasons, produced 3,166 hits (second most for a player from the Dominican Republic), smacked 477 home runs, made five postseason appearances and authored countless highlights. During his career, he became known for his resilience in battling through significant injuries, his ability to slug while dropping to one knee and his friendly shenanigans on the diamond. In 2024, he became known as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Here are 10 of the most memorable moments from Beltré's career.

1. No. 3,000
In the crowning statistical achievement of his Hall of Fame career, Beltré joined baseball's 3,000-hit club on July 30, 2017. Playing in front of the Rangers' home crowd in Arlington, he ripped a double down the third-base line to reach the milestone. Beltré became the 32nd member of the 3,000-hit club, as well as just the third primary third baseman to reach the mark (along with Wade Boggs and George Brett) and the first Dominican-born player to do so (since joined by Albert Pujols).

"Today, when I got my second at-bat, I thought, 'This has to be it. I don't want to have the fans waiting, my family is waiting for it. I don't want to drag it one more day,'" Beltré said after getting his 3,000th hit -- a moment he shared with his wife and children on the field. "What happened today after the hit has been the best moment in my life. I didn't know how to feel, because I had no idea what was going on. I feel proud of them. I saw the joy in their faces, and a lot of things you do in your career you do for your kids and your family. My kids and my wife have been so supportive over the years, that this moment was for them."

2. Game 4, 2011 American League Division Series
On Oct. 4, 2011, with the Rangers looking to clinch the ALDS against the Rays, Beltré took matters into his own hands at Tropicana Field. He turned in one of the best single-game postseason performances ever, homering three times to account for the final three runs of a 4-3 win that sent the Rangers to the AL Championship Series.

Beltré went deep off Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson in the second inning and again in the fourth, and crushed one more home run off Matt Moore in the seventh for a much-needed insurance run. He became just the seventh player to homer three times in a single playoff game, and is now one of just 11 different Major Leaguers do so.

3. Fall Classic blast from one knee
Beltré became the posterboy for launching home runs from one knee, so it's perhaps fitting that his first World Series homer came in that trademark fashion. With the Rangers trailing the Cardinals, 2-1, in Game 5 of the 2011 Fall Classic, Beltré dropped to his right knee and crushed a low-and-outside breaking ball from St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter deep into the left-field bleachers. Beltré sent the fans at Globe Life Park into a frenzy, and the homer proved critical as Texas took a 3-2 series lead. Beltré would hit another big home run in Game 6 -- a tiebreaking shot leading off the seventh inning at Busch Stadium -- although that one would be overshadowed by David Freese's memorable heroics for the Cards.

4. Tri-cycle
On Aug. 3, 2015, Beltré put the Majors on cycle watch early in the second inning when he'd already hit a triple and double. He followed with a single in the third, giving him ample time to belt a homer, which he did in the bottom of the fifth. Beltré became just the fourth player in history to hit for three cycles -- John Reilly, Babe Herman and Bob Meusel preceded him -- and he was the first to do so since 1933. At 36 years and 118 days old, Beltré was also the eighth-oldest player to notch a cycle.

5. MLB debut, first hit
It all started on June 24, 1998 -- Beltré's Major League debut, the first of his 2,933 career regular-season games. Beltré was just 19 years old when he was called up for the first time by Dodgers general manager Tommy Lasorda and took the field for a Wednesday night Interleague game against the Angels at Dodger Stadium. In his first big league at-bat, facing Chuck Finley, Beltré lined an RBI double down the left-field line. There would be 3,165 more hits to come, and 1,706 more RBIs.

6. First MLB home run
The first of Beltré's 477 home runs came about a week into his career. In an appropriate coincidence, it happened in Arlington, where he'd go on to hit so many more big home runs with the Rangers. On June 30, 1998, Beltré headed to Texas for his first career road trip. In the series opener against the Rangers, Beltré belted home run No. 1 -- a two-run shot off Rick Helling onto the grassy knoll beyond the center-field wall, which broke the game open for the Dodgers in the top of the sixth inning.

7. Home run king
The 2004 season, his last in a Dodgers uniform, was the best of Beltré's long career. Only Barry Bonds at the peak of his powers prevented Beltré from winning the National League MVP Award, but it was Beltré who came away with the home run crown. He crushed 48 homers to lead the Majors, surpassing not only Bonds (45), but also Pujols and Adam Dunn (46 each) and AL champ Manny Ramirez (43). Beltré also hit a career-best .334 with a 1.017 OPS and reached the 200-hit mark for the first and only time.

8. Beltré helps Rangers clinch AL West in '15
After missing the playoffs the previous two seasons, the Rangers got hot down the stretch in 2015 and took a one-game lead in the AL West into the final day of the regular season. In Game 162, they were facing the Angels, who were themselves still in contention for a Wild Card slot. The Angels even took an early lead on Pujols' two-run homer off Cole Hamels in the first inning … but then Beltré put the Rangers on top to stay. His go-ahead two-run shot to the opposite field off Garrett Richards in the fifth was the biggest hit of what turned into a 9-2 win that sent Texas back to the postseason.

9. Walk-off homers
Beltré's nine walk-off homers are four shy of Jim Thome's all-time MLB record. In 2016, when the Rangers had 36 wins in one-run games, Beltré accounted for at least one with a deep fly to center against Oakland's Ryan Madson. In '13, Beltré capped a series sweep of the Angels with the Rangers' third consecutive walk-off homer. In '12, with a tight race with Oakland for the AL West in the final week, Beltré lifted a game-winner to center off A's reliever Tyson Ross. Both clubs would go on to reach the playoffs. In '06, Beltré's walk-off against Yankees reliever Ron Villone helped the Mariners snap an 11-game losing streak in late August. Beltré's first walk-off homer came in '01 with the Dodgers, when he lifted a middle-low breaking ball to deep left field off the Mariners' Jose Paniagua in the ninth.

10. Frenemies
Beltré and Mariners ace Félix Hernández were teammates for five years in Seattle. In the years following Beltré's departure, they developed a long-running friendly rivalry. Especially after Beltré became a division rival with the Rangers, their matchups produced a series of entertaining back-and-forth antics between the two players, with plenty of good-natured jawing. Beltré hit a pair of homers off King Félix over the years, but Hernandez held him to a .226 batting average in 62 at-bats while striking Beltré out 10 times.

"For me, it's fun because obviously we have a little friend/enemy-type thing going on," Beltré said. "It is fun, but I always want to beat him even though I know if he gets the best of me, I'm going to hear from him after the game. I always hope, even though I love the guy, I am always going to try and beat him."