Adrian Beltre is just one big game away from baseball immortality.
The Texas Rangers veteran third baseman needs only four hits to reach the 3,000-hit milestone, something only 30 players have accomplished.
For more perspective, only five of those 30 players aren’t in the Baseball Hall of Fame, where Rangers catching legend Pudge Rodriguez will be inducted Sunday.
Of the five, two are certain Hall of Famers: Ichiro Suzuki, who is still active, and Derek Jeter, who will be eligible in 2020.
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The other three, including all-time hit leader Pete Rose, former Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez and former Rangers first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, would all be elected if not for a ban from the game in Rose’s case, and steroid scandals marring the careers of the other two.
2,996 Hits for Adrian Beltre, which is the 31st all-time. He’ll tie Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente when he collects his 3,000 hit.
For Beltre, there are no scandals and his future place in Cooperstown, N.Y., seems inevitable.
He showed Monday night that even at 38, one more game might be all he needs. He had his first four-hit game of the season Monday and added three more — two doubles and a home run — in Wednesday’s 22-10 loss to the Marlins.
We’ll try to gloss over the fact that umpire Gerry Davis inexplicably ejected Beltre from the game in the eighth inning for moving the on-deck circle to where he was standing, instead of moving to the on-deck circle (where Davis asked him to move). Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds.
Beltre will become the first player to collect his 3,000th hit in a Rangers uniform.
Only eight players were younger than Beltre when they collected their 3,000th hit. He already is the all-time hits leader while playing third base and needs only 159 hits to surpass George Brett for most hits by a player who primarily played third base.
The way he’s still playing, it seems, he could be in the league for several more years.
“For me, 3,000 would be a gold standard for a hitter,” Rangers’ manager Jeff Banister said. “You have to be a really good hitter and you have to have sustained being a good hitter for a long period of time.”
Indeed, the longevity it takes to achieve such a milestone is what impresses Beltre’s teammates.
“It’s tough to count 3,000, let alone show up every day and put in the work,” said slugger Joey Gallo, who’s enjoying his first full season in the majors. “Three thousand hits is ridiculous. People don’t understand, that’s unbelievable.
“Any record in baseball is pretty amazing because of the longevity it takes. To put that work in every day is amazing.”
A hitter not only has to be a premium hitter in the league for a “number of years inside your career,” Banister said, but he has to stay healthy.
Beltre has only one 200-hit season in his 19-year career (200 hits in his last year for the Dodgers in 2004) but he has nine with 163 or more. For a player with Beltre’s power (he hit his 454th homer Wednesday), the sustained success as an overall hitter late in his career has been astonishing. In seven seasons with the Rangers he’s hitting over .300, which includes 1,107 of his hits, the most among the four clubs he’s played.
“He’s 38 years old and still plays like he’s 25,” reliever Austin Bibens-Dirkx said. “You see some of the plays he makes out at third base and the way he enjoys the game. It’s baseball, it’s a game, you’re supposed to enjoy it. I think he epitomizes the enjoyment of baseball.”
No one is enjoying Beltre’s quest for 3,000 more than Banister, who was calling Beltre a Hall of Famer two years ago as a rookie manager. He likes his young players, including Rougned Odor (23), Nomar Mazara (22) and Gallo (23), watching Beltre at work being a professional hitter.
“Because they’re getting to watch how he’s doing it,” Banister said. “His four hits the other night … where’d three of them go?”
To the opposite-field through a big hole to right field because the Marlins’ second baseman shifted toward center field.
“That is the art of hitting, and being able to hit, and then still being able to maintain power,” Banister said. “That’s the other part of this. You can hit for power and still be a great hitter.
‘Move the ball around. There’s a lot of great lessons for these young guys to sit and watch.”
Rangers vs. Orioles
7:05 p.m. Friday, FSSW
Memorable moments in Rangers history
Nolan Ryan, 7th no-hitter (May 1, 1991) At 44, Ryan threw his record seventh no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays at Arlington Stadium. He walked two and struck out 16, including Roberto Alomar swinging for the final out in front of 33,439. No other pitcher has more than four no-hitters.
Nolan Ryan, 6th no-hitter (June 11, 1990) Ryan extends his no-hitter record with his first in the American League in 15 years by striking out 14 and walking two in 130 pitches against the defending World Series champion Oakland A’s, who also reached the World Series in ’90.
Nolan Ryan, 5,000th strikeout (Aug. 22, 1989) In his first season with the Rangers, the all-time strikeout leader became the first (and still the only) pitcher to record 5,000 strikeouts by striking out Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson to start the fifth inning on a 3-2 fastball. Ryan finished the season with 301 strikeouts.
Kenny Rogers, perfect game (July 28, 1994) The left-hander became the 14th pitcher to throw a perfect game against the California Angels at The Ballpark In Arlington. He struck out eight and received a big assist from center fielder Rusty Greer whose diving catch on a sinking liner in right-center started the ninth. It came three years to the day of the previous perfect game by the Expos’ Dennis Martinez and 10 years since the Angels’ Mike Witt pitched a perfect game against the Rangers at Arlington Stadium. There have been nine since Rogers’ and 21 in the modern era.
Josh Hamilton, 28 homers in home run derby (July 14, 2008) Josh Hamilton’s comeback story became front-page news when he belted a record 28 homers in the first round of the All-Star Game Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium. No other contestant hit more than eight homers in the first round. Hamilton finished with the most overall homers (35) but lost to the Twins’ Justin Morneau in the finals. But his legend was born.
Sammy Sosa, 600th home run (June 20, 2007) Sosa, who hit his first-career homer as a rookie for the Rangers on June 21, 1989 (against Roger Clemens) before being traded a month later to the White Sox, returned for his final season and became the fifth player to hit 600 or more homers and still ranks eighth all-time with 609.
Rafael Palmeiro, 500th home run (May 11, 2003) Palmeiro, in his second stint with Texas, became the 19th player to hit at 500 or more home runs when he hit a two-run shot off the Indians’ Dave Elder in seventh inning at Globe Life Park. He hit 321 of his 569 homers with the Rangers.
A.L. pennant clincher (Oct. 22, 2010) Neftali Feliz struck out the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez looking to clinch the A.L. pennant and send the Rangers to their first World Series at The Ballpark in Arlington. Feliz closed out a masterful eight-innings by starter Colby Lewis, who earned the win.
First interleague game (June 12, 1997) The Rangers hosted the San Francisco Giants for the first interleague game in major league history. The Giants won 4-3. Three other interleague games that day were all on the West Coast and started later.
Josh Hamilton, 4 homers, (May 8, 2012) Hamilton became the 16th player in history to hit four homers in a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. The last player to do it was Carlos Delgado in 2003. Hamilton also doubled that night to become the seventh player to collect five extra-base hits in a game. His 18 total bases was an AL record.