Texas Rangers legendary third baseman Adrian Beltré has decided to retire after 21 seasons in Major League Baseball.
Beltré, 39, made it official through an announcement on Texas’ Twitter page Tuesday morning. As a 67-win campaign dwindled down for the Rangers, he left the door open to a possible return in 2019- but heavily implied that season would be his last.
“After careful consideration and many sleepless nights, I have made the decision to retire from doing what I have done my whole life, which is playing baseball the game I love,” Beltré said in the statement.
Beltre began his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a raw 19-year-old in 1998. His time there was highlighted by a 48-home run season in 2004, and he signed with Seattle that offseason.
He continued to play at a high level, but an injury in 2009 forced him to miss most of the season. He signed with Boston in 2010, where he resurrected his career, and increased his free-agency value immensely.
And that’s where the Rangers came into the picture.
Beltre and the Texas franchise came to terms on a 5-year, $80-million deal on Jan. 5, 2011 that was met with some scrutiny at the time.
He was an integral part of the 2011 American League Champion Rangers team, and etched his name on the hearts of Texas fans with timely hitting, jaw-dropping defensive plays, and charisma on and off the diamond that season.
And after teammate Michael Young was traded in the 2012 offseason, Beltré was the de facto “Mr. Ranger.”
It’s hard to pin down just a single memory that Texas fans will turn back to when reflecting on the career of Beltré.
Maybe it’s less of a single moment; but a series of moments. His charisma? Never more on display than his hilarious on-the-field relationship with young shortstop and left-side infield partner, Elvis Andrus.
The two have been the subject of many a YouTube compilation of Andrus’ shenanigans– and Beltré’s sheer professionalism when catching pop flies under duress.
That professionalism went out the window when any one of his many teammates over the years dared to touch his bald head.
Fans and opposing teams alike latched onto Beltre’s seething rage over any interaction regarding his hat, helmet, or hair. It was a testament to his personality- a professional on the field, but easy and likable enough to have fun for the fans and others’ sake.
This crescendoed in a July 2017 contest against Miami- a game Texas lost 22-10- when Beltre was ejected for moving the on-deck circle at Globe Life Park. Not matter what the scoreboard showed, his light-hearted, yet intense spirit, always surfaced.
Perhaps baseball fundamentalists and batting coaches will cringe when they think back on his career. Beltré was known for taking huge cuts in his swings- some out of the strike zone, sometimes falling to a knee.
Even then, shaky fundamentals didn’t affect his results- he clubbed 199 total homers with Texas.
It’s unfortunate that Beltré never won a World Series with the team. But some of the electricity of victory manifested at Globe Life Park Jul. 30, 2017- when he recorded his 3,000th hit in a loss to Baltimore.
The Orioles weren’t a marquee opponent. The Rangers struggled in the series. Yet, 32,000 fans from all over the state to take part in Beltre’s achievement.
Even at an advanced age, he still put up solid numbers in 2018- a .271 batting average, 15 home runs, and 71 RBI. His final game for Texas was a road loss to Seattle Sep. 30, and he hit his final home run Sep. 26 in a loss to the Angels.
All in all, he finishes his career with 3,166 hits, 477 home runs, and 1,777 RBI. He played in 2,933 games, and recorded 12,130 plate appearances.
The stats jump off the page. But Beltre’s professionalism and class at the major league level were unmatched.
This was exemplified with the timing of his decision. He leaves new Texas manager Chris Woodward and the entire Rangers brass in a great position. Even though he was clearly considering a return, his retirement on Nov. 20 leaves the team plenty of time to pursue a replacement.
If you could ever replace the weight that a player of his magnitude pulls on and off the field, that is.
If you remember anything about Adrian Beltré, it’s more than likely something good. Perhaps someday soon, we’ll see his No. 29 retired on the scaffolding at Globe Life Field, the new home of the Rangers.
And soon after, he’ll more than likely quietly enter the Hall of Fame doing what he hates most- bringing attention on himself. Even so, it will be just another notch for Texas fans to add to a bevy of professionalism and individual personality quirks that made Adrian Beltré the face of the Texas Rangers in the 2010’s.
Beltré reciprocates the sentiment from the fans.
“I also owe a huge part of my success in Texas to the amazing Ranger’s fans,” Beltre said in the statement. “You guys are the best!”
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