ARLINGTON, Texas – Much of what Adrian Beltre now hears about his standout career comes from his son, a baseball fanatic who grew up in the Texas Rangers clubhouse during his father's last eight big league seasons.
The four-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove-winning third baseman, who retired in 2018 after 21 big league seasons, was inducted into the Texas Rangers Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday night, when Rangers fans got to hear from Beltre.
While not speaking long, Beltre spoke from the heart without a prepared script. With AJ (Adrian Jr) and his family on the field with him, Beltre thanked countless people by name after an impressive highlight reel of big hits and standout defensive plays.
Beltre and Chuck Morgan, in his 38th season as the public address announcer for the Rangers spanning three different stadiums, were the 23rd and 24th inductees in the team’s Hall of Fame since the first class in 2003.
Morgan went from the pregame ceremony directly back to the PA booth and worked his 3,059th consecutive regular season game.
The night was almost certainly a precursor for Beltre and a spot in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. His first time on the ballot for Cooperstown will be for the Class of 2024.
Beltre went to his only World Series in 2011, his first season in Texas, and joined MLB's 3,000-hit club in a Rangers home game in 2017. His 3,166 career hits are 17th in baseball history while he hitting .286 with 477 home runs. His 2,759 games at third base are second only to Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson.
Texas retired Beltre’s No. 29 jersey two years ago, in its last season at Globe Life Park. The Rangers' first hall induction in two-year-old Globe Life Field, the stadium across the street with a retractable roof, came before a game against Oakland.
Elvis Andrus, now with the A's after the past 12 seasons as the Rangers starting shortstop that included Beltre's entire time in Texas, missed the ceremony. Andrus left after the series opener Friday night to be with his wife for the birth of their third child, but recorded a video message for Beltre.
The 42-year-old Beltre's time is now centered around his family in California: wife Sandra, AJ (who turns 15 next month) and their two daughters (ages 10 and 17). His big league career began at age 19 in Los Angeles, playing 6 1/2 seasons with the Dodgers, then five years in Seattle and one in Boston.
AJ was 4 when his father signed in free agency with the Rangers, and had his own locker in the clubhouse. He spent many hours in the outfield hitting balls thrown by his father or taking grounders — they were doing just that in the empty stadium on the morning of his final home game with the Rangers on Sept. 23, 2018. Now Beltre is a fulltime baseball dad, and still figuring out how much instructive detail to share with AJ at certain times — and didn't try to tweak the kid's swing until maybe two years ago.
“I've always pitched to him, but I always wanted him to get his own identity because he learns a lot, he watches a lot,” Beltre said. “I’m learning how to, being a coach, giving information to fix stuff that he needs to fix, and being a dad supportive, of not being too hard on him because he’s hard enough on himself.”
Morgan was a country music disc jockey in Nashville before joining the Rangers for the 1983 season opener at old Arlington Stadium. He hasn't missed a game since, including the 2002 season he spent with the Kansas City Royals.
A half-hour before riding onto the field in the back of a pickup truck Saturday night, accompanied by four of his grandsons, Morgan was introducing the starting lineups.
Among those wishing Morgan congratulations in a video were Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan and “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and former Dallas Mavericks great Dirk Nowitzki each had their own take of Morgan's signature line, “It's Baseball Time In Texas!”
The microphone from Morgan's 3,000th consecutive game last September was sent to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Morgan had described it as a big "Oh, Wow!" to go into the Rangers hall with a player expected to be in Cooperstown.
“He’s everything that baseball is all about. A great player, great hitter, great fielder, had a good time when he was playing," Morgan said.
When catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez was inducted into Cooperstown on May 30, 2017, Morgan was instead in the booth for a Rangers home game — the day Beltre got his 3,000th career hit.
“I had told everybody that that was going to happen on the day that Pudge was going into the Hall of Fame, and I was going to stay behind and make sure that happened,” Morgan said. “ It was a great moment.”
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