ARLINGTON — Texas Rangers outfielder Engel Beltre will soon be sharing space on a baseball card with an all-star retriever (yes, retriever) named Molly.Beltre posed for the cameras on Wednesday with the young and frisky Lab mix, to help her and other dogs from the Humane Society of North Texas find homes.“She likes that,” Beltre said as he gave a brisk tummy rub to the white-and-tan pup.“My little sister and my mother always keep dogs and play with them,” he said. Though he doesn’t have his own dog now, he plans to get one soon for his 19-month-old son.He’s good with both large breeds and small mutts, he said.“They’re both some good company,” Beltre said.The photo shoot was the last of 26 featuring Rangers players and dogs that will be used on a special set of baseball cards called Dogs Safe at Home. The Rangers partnered with the Humane Society and Merrick Pet Care to create the commemorative set, which will sell for $15 at Rangers games and Humane Society locations and $18 online. Proceeds from sale of the cards will benefit the Humane Society and showcase the merits of adopting shelter pets.The cards are 4 by 6 inches and contain all the stats on each dog featured, plus pet care tips and a coupon for discounts on Merrick pet products.On Wednesday, Molly was joined by picture-perfect pals Isabella, a miniature dachshund mix; Shelley, a black-and-white cattle dog mix; and big Joe, a sort-of schnauzer whose card picture with first baseman Prince Fielder is a study in strength.All of those dogs are up for adoption.“Of all the things we do with the players, this was the easiest, baseball players and dogs,” said Rangers spokesman John Blake. “So many of our players have dogs, it was an easy sell — even to the ones who don’t have dogs.”The idea for the card set came from Megan Harrison, wife of pitcher Matt Harrison, who is pictured with the couple’s own two dogs. The plan was a hit with the Texas Rangers Wives Association, and before long 10 Rangers were posing with their family pets and 15 others were borrowing shelter dogs for the shoots.“We have never done anything like this before,” said Whitney Hanson with the Humane Society. “We were really excited when the Rangers reached out to us to partner with them on this.”Rangers staff photographer Kelly Gavin shot all the card photos over a period of several weeks, she said. Locations ranged from players’ homes to areas around Globe Life Park in Arlington.“It was a lot of fun, and I’m a dog person,” she said as she brushed herself off after falling prey to a playful lunge from Molly. “I’m not so sure it would have been that fun if I wasn’t.”There were some personality differences, to be sure.“[Injured second baseman] Jurickson Profar had a hard time getting Isabella to warm up to him,” Gavin said. “She was a little nervous when he came over to her. I don’t know if she had been around men that much.”Then there was outfielder Alex Rios, who kept assuring Gavin and crew that his 1-pound chihuahua was really his wife’s choice for a pet. “It really got lost in his glove,” said Gavin, who posed the tiny canine there. “It was just too funny.”Among other Rangers on the cards are shortstop Elvis Andrus, third baseman Adrian Beltre, outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, pitchers Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis, designated hitter Mitch Moreland and manager Ron Washington.The cards go on sale June 7 at an Adopt-A-Pet event at Globe Life Park, two hours before the Rangers’ game with the Cleveland Indians. The card sets will be on sale after that at the Texas Rangers Foundation booth at all home games, and the Majestic Grand Slam gift shop. The Humane Society will sell card sets at its adoption centers in Fort Worth, Benbrook, Keller and Dallas.
Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657 Twitter: @shirljinkins