ARLINGTON -- There were three things Adrian Beltre wanted to happen when he finally collected his 3,000th hit. First, he wanted to make sure his family was there to witness it. They were at Globe Life Park on Sunday, so, check. He wanted to do it at home. Check. And he wanted to, in his words, "get a clean hit." Check.
The last part took a few tries in Sunday's 10-6 loss to the Orioles. He'd made an out in his last three attempts at reaching 3,000, but every time, the routine was the same. Beltre's name would be announced over the PA system, and the crowd would whip into an ear-splitting roar. And then, just as soon as they erupted, silence enveloped the stadium. When the pitcher prepared to deliver the ball, you could hear a pin drop. Nobody wanted to miss it, cameras and phones primed to capture it for eternity.
:: Beltre joins 3,000-hit club ::
On his fourth try, Beltre connected. After striking out in his first at-bat against Baltimore starter Wade Miley, Beltre ripped a double down the third-base line on a 3-0 count in the fourth inning to ensure his place in baseball lore. He became the 31st player in Major League history to reach the milestone and the first Dominican-born player to do so.
• Major League Baseball's 3,000-hit club
"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,'" Beltre said. "When I got the 3-0, I was doubting myself. 'Should I swing, or should I just take?' The way Miley was pitching, I thought, 'This is going to be the best pitch he will throw me.' And I decided, if it's going to be on the plate, I'm going to swing. And I did."
He strode into second, paused, collected himself, and then the celebration began. The Orioles near him offered their congratulations, and a steady stream of Beltre's teammates emerged from the dugout as fireworks boomed over the Arlington sky. Beltre turned, saw his children running toward him and prepared for a hug, except they sprinted right by him and into the outfield.
They reached a covered portion of the right-center-field wall and unveiled a facade dedicated to Beltre's achievement. Only then did they sprint back to the infield dirt and into their father's arms.
"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," Beltre said. "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. When I saw that, I felt like I was on a cloud, because I really saw the joy in their faces. It was a nice moment to enjoy with them -- my family, my wife."
And for a moment, but just what seemed like a split-second, you could see Beltre, who is assuredly a no-nonsense type of person when in the midst of a game, let his guard down and allow himself to soak in the environment that only a precious few have ever been afforded the opportunity to embrace.
He tipped his cap, turned and faced the delirious Rangers faithful at Globe Life Park, and accepted his place in history.
"[He wasn't] sure he knew exactly how he was going to feel," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "But to watch a true baseball warrior let the guard down just for an ultra-second to enjoy it, to embrace it, it was perfect for all of us."
It just so happened that the day his transcendent hit occurred was the same day that Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez was being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In fact, Beltre's hit skidded into the outfield past Manny Machado mere moments after Rodriguez had finished wrapping up his acceptance speech.
And, as if the timing couldn't have been any more perfect, Sunday was Father's Day in the Dominican Republic.
"Just the fact that today was Father's Day in the Dominican and it was the date that Pudge got elected, introduced into the Hall of Fame, it was just pure coincidence," Beltre said. "It was nice to do it today, because obviously I've got the whole day to enjoy my family, my whole family's here and I'm looking forward to whatever we're going to do after. But it was just nice to get it done."
Beltre, 38, is in his 20th season and his seventh with the Rangers. Entering Sunday, he was batting .522 in his last six games and a team-high .368 since the All-Star break. He began the Rangers' nine-game homestand needing 11 hits to reach the 3,000-hit plateau and recorded 10 hits in the first five games.