Sadly, Carlos Beltran’s Mets legacy will forever be defined by what he didn’t do: take the bat off his shoulder against Adam Wainwright during Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.
However, Beltran meant so much to the Mets organization over the past seven years for his work on and off the field.
He was honored at MLB’s annual B.A.T. dinner as the recipient of the Bart Giamatti Award for outstanding community service.
Beltran’s organization, the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, has been serving young Puerto Rican baseball players as they attempt to play in the United States. Beltran came over as an 18-year-old and barely spoke English, so his goal is to ensure, through a combination of education and sports, that the kids are prepared for what they’ll face.
Each year, Beltran donates 10 percent of his salary towards his foundation. He said he’s been able to help a lot of kids in both Puerto Rico and New York.
“I believe in giving back,” Beltran said. “I believe in giving back to the community. I believe in giving back to the kids.”
Beltran acknowledged that the number of Puerto Rican baseball players had actually been on the decline. He hopes he can play a role in increasing that amount once more.
As for his Mets baseball past, Beltran said his time in New York was “honestly great.” He believed that he did his best to help the team during the years he was healthy.
He did say that there were some ups and downs along the way but that he had no regrets.
“I’ve had my best years of baseball with the Mets,” said Beltran. “Of course, the years that you are healthy, you can perform at the level that you expect yourself to perform.”
Beltran further commented that it takes a special athlete to perform in New York. He said he learned how to deal with certain situations and thus became a better player.
“When you come to New York, you have to understand that everything is going to be magnified,” he said. “The media coverage is going to be bigger than any place else. Coming from Kansas City and then coming from Houston, New York was a big difference for me.”
Beltran’s favorite Mets memory was the team’s run in 2006, though it didn’t end according to plan. He cherished the opportunity to play with Carlos Delgado, David Wright, Jose Reyes, Paul LoDuca and Billy Wagner.
As he enters his 15th season in the big leagues, Beltran is excited to play for the St. Louis Cardinals. He was looking for the chance to get back to the playoffs in these final years of his career, and the Cardinals recent World Series win factored into his decision.
Overlooking some of the off-the-field issues, it was honor watching Beltran play for the Mets. As true Mets fans, we should be saluting Beltran and wishing him well as he continues his career with the Cardinals.
Of course (like I told him), hopefully he doesn’t hit against us!