Text and photos by Joe Mock
All rights reserved
It’s no secret that my favorite player is Adrian Beltre. When I had the opportunity to witness his 3,000th hit, I made a beeline to Arlington, Texas on July 30th.
Before entering, I checked out the parking lots on the southern side the park. That’s because construction is about to commence in Lot B for a new retractable-roof stadium. It will be the Rangers’ home starting in 2020. That’s AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, in the distance. The other shot shows that construction has already started for Texas LIVE, an entertainment complex reminiscent of the Ballpark Village in St. Louis. Because the restaurants and bars will be directly in between the Rangers’ new park and AT&T Stadium, it will be hopping on both baseball and football days — and, the developers hope, the rest of the year, too.
It was a Sunday afternoon game. Normally in late July, the daytime temps top 100, but it was a little cooler this day. The gametime temperature was a bearable 92.
Pitching for the visiting Orioles was lefty Wade Miley. He set Beltre down on strikes in the second. Every fan was on his/her feet when Adrian came up in the 4th. He worked the count to 3-0. He almost never swings at a 3-0 pitch, but then …
It was 3:32 p.m. The partly cloudy day had just become fully sunny. And baseball history happened.
Beltre ripped Miley’s 3-0 pitch between 3B Manny Machado and the foul line. The roar from the crowd was deafening. For the 1,111th time since becoming a Ranger, he had a base hit. For the 605th time in his big-league career, he had a double. Most importantly, for the 3,000th time since he made his Major League debut as a 19 year old, he had a hit. That made him the 31st big leaguer to reach that milestone, and the first player born in the Dominican Republic to do so.
The Rangers were prepared for this moment. The fireworks had been on stand-by. The appropriate video-board message was ready. And a banner congratulating him on the accomplishment was unfurled high above center field.
In his post-game remarks, Beltre said he didn’t understand why his kids ran past him into right field after his big hit. Well, they were on their way to pull the cover off another sign congratulating him, this one showing a silhouette of the star hitting a ball on one knee — a move that has almost become a signature swing for him.
The kids then ran back to their dad as their lovely mom Sandra gave her husband a big hug.
Other ways in which the Rangers were fully prepared for this event was a listing of Beltre’s place among the game’s elites on the video board and a keepsake that fans were handed as they left the park that day. Suitable, as they say, for framing, along with your ticket from the game.
For Rangers fans in attendance, the fact that the home team lost that game 10-6 to Baltimore isn’t what they’ll remember. The magic that happened at 3:32 p.m., though, is what they’ll keep in their hearts for a lifetime.