Bel­tre re­tires af­ter 21 MLB sea­sons

The Peterborough Examiner - - Sports - STEPHEN HAWKINS

AR­LING­TON, TEXAS — Adrian Bel­tre had a some­times-im­pos­ing stare and plenty of quirky habits. He also had a gen­uine love for base­ball, and a lot of fun in a Hall of Fame-cal­i­bre ca­reer.

Af­ter 21 big-league sea­sons in which Bel­tre hit 477 home runs and be­came the first player from the Do­mini­can Repub­lic to have 3,000 hits, the slick-field­ing third base­man for the Texas Rangers re­tired Tues­day at age 39.

“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 in a state­ment. “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, who will be el­i­gi­ble for the Base­ball Hall of Fame bal­lot in five years, was a .286 hit­ter with 1,707 RBIs in 2,933 ca­reer games. His 3,166 hits rank 16th on the 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.

“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. “He’s go­ing to be missed for sure.”

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. Bel­tre played with Los An­ge­les un­til 2004, the Seat­tle Mariners from 2005-09 and the Bos­ton Red Sox in 2010. He joined the Rangers on a six-year, US$96-mil­lion free-agent deal in 2011 and ap­peared in his only World Se­ries in his first sea­son with Texas.

In his state­ment, Bel­tre thankedTom La­sorda, then the Dodgers’ 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.

“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 also wrote. “While I will for­ever cher­ish the mem­o­ries from my time play­ing the great­est game on earth, I am ex­cited to be­come a full-time hus­band and father, and I am ready to take on the next chap­ter of my life.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Adrian Bel­tre won four Gold Gloves and be­came the first player who was a pri­mar­ily a third base­man to amass 3,000 ca­reer hits and 450 home runs.

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