Beltre not missing baseball but keeping up with Rangers
Adrian Beltre became the fourth Texas Rangers player to have his jersey retired Saturday night at Globe Life Park.
Beltre, who finished his Hall of Fame career with eight seasons in Arlington, retired after the 2018 season.
No Texas Ranger will ever again wear No. 29.
He joins Nolan Ryan, former manager Johnny Oates, and Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez as the only former Ranger players to have their numbers retired. Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 is also retired by every team in the league.
Beltre entered the stadium riding in the back of a blue pickup truck, waving to fans. He joined his family, including his wife, three kids and his parents. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, radio voice Eric Nadel and dugout reporter Emily Jones (who MC’d the ceremony) were all sitting near the pitcher’s mound for the 55 minutes ceremony. Also on hand were former players Michael Young and David Murphy.
“When I first came here I didn’t know what to expect,” Beltre said. “The first guy I talked to was Michael Young. I’m so grateful for tonight. Last but not least, I want to thank you, the fans, for supporting me, and supporting our organization.”
Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who was an interim general manager for the Dodgers who first called up Beltre from the minors in 1998, was a surprise guest.
“It was a beautiful surprise to have Tommy Lasorda here today,” Beltre said. “There’s no doubt that without him I wouldn’t be here today.”
Beltre was a fan favorite, not only because of his production on the field, but for the joy he showed on the field, especially his hijinks with teammate Elvis Andrus. He had hilarious battles with Mariners’ pitcher Felix Hernandez, his former teammate in Seattle. He was once ejected by umpire Gerry Davis for moving the on-deck circle closer to home plate. He made everyone laugh — his teammates, opposing players and fans — by famously disliking his head being touched.
It never stopped Andrus from trying, even during the ceremony. And it was hilarious every time.
Beltre, who played 21 seasons, finished 16th all-time with 3,166 hits, including 1,277 with Texas. He also ended his career 24th all-time with 1,707 RBIs, including 699 with Texas. He also finished 30th all-time with 477 home runs.
During the ceremony, Hall of Famers including George Brett, Pedro Martinez, Mike Schmidt, and Chipper Jones, and future Hall of Famers including Derek Jeter and David Ortiz offered their respects via video on the stadium video board. Many of them predicted Beltre would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, which elicited loud cheers of approval from almost 40,000 in attendance. Former Dallas Maverick Dirk Nowitzki was watching from behind homeplate.
“I was like a father to him,” Lasorda said. “Having known him since he got into a baseball. When he signed as a rookie, I told him he as all the ability in the world, just don’t mess it up.”
Artist Vernon Wells unveiled a collage painting of Beltre and his No. 29 and Andrus presented Beltre with a custom-made, Rangers’ blue velvet robe with his name and number on the back.
Andrus took the moment, of course, to touch Beltre’s head when he turned back to take his seat. Beltre, as he did so many times during his playing career, reacted with mock outrage. He tore off the robe and threw it towards Andrus.
It was one more big laugh for baseball fans courtesy of Adrian Beltre.
Nadel called Beltre his favorite player to watch because he always had a smile on his face. He recalled how Beltre performed so well in the clutch late in the season with the postseason on the line.
“Yes, he was great, and he was great when it mattered most,” Nadel said. “I’m proud to announce that no one in a Texas Rangers uniform will ever wear No. 29 again.”
With that, Beltre’s name and No. 29 as unveiled on the facade behind left field.