Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers retired Tuesday after 21 seasons in a career in which he hit 477 home runs and became the first player from the Dominican Republic to have 3,000 hits.
The 39-year-old third baseman announced his decision in a statement released by the Rangers, saying it is time for the “next chapter of my life.”
“After careful consideration and many sleepless nights, I have made the decision to retire from what I’ve been doing my whole life, which is playing baseball, the game I love,” Beltre said. “I have thought about it a lot and although I appreciate all the opportunities and everything that baseball has given me, it’s time to call it a career.”
Beltre was a .286 hitter with 1,707 RBIs in 2,933 career games. His 3,166 hits rank 16th on baseball’s career list, with his homers total 30th and RBIs 24th. He played 2,759 games at third base – only Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson had more.
The four-time all-star and five-time Gold Glove winner was 19 when he made his big-league debut with the Dodgers in 1998. He will be eligible to be on the Hall of Fame ballot in five years.
In his statement, Beltre thanked former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, then the team’s interim general manager, for “believing in this young kid from the Dominican Republic when others thought I was too young to be called up” to the majors. Beltre was only 15 when he first signed with the Dodgers as an amateur free agent in July, 1994.
Beltre played with Los Angeles until 2004, then was with the Seattle Mariners from 2005-09 and the Boston Red Sox in 2010. He joined the Rangers on a US$96-million, six-year free-agent deal in 2011, and appeared in his only World Series in his first season with Texas.
“As much fun as people see us having at the ballpark all of the time, and playing around, I haven’t met somebody that was more detailed about the game than him,” Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “That is something that stood out to me, something I learned from watching him and playing next to him the last eight years. He’s going to be missed for sure. It’s going to be different.”
Beltre hit .273 with 15 homers and 65 RBIs in 119 games this season, when he went on the disabled list twice because of an ailing left hamstring issues that also bothered him at the end of the 2017 season.
He got his 3,000th career hit on July 30, 2017, the 31st major leaguer to reach that milestone.
“To all my fans in the Dominican Republic, the United States and Latin America, my sincerest THANK YOU for your continuous support throughout my career,” Beltre wrote. “While I will forever cherish the memories from my time playing the greatest game on earth, I am excited to become a fulltime husband and father, and I am ready to take on the next chapter of my life.”
Michael Young, now a special assistant to the general manager, was the Rangers third baseman before Beltre joined the team. Young then became a utility infielder and designated hitter and is still the career leader for games played and hits by a Rangers player.
“I knew he was good defensively, I didn’t know he was this good. I knew he could hit, I didn’t know he could hit like that. I knew he was tough, I didn’t know he was that tough,” Young said Tuesday. “I could just pretty much go on, all of the things I knew about him, he was just better in pretty much in every possibly way I could have imagined.”