If the recent reports are true, and Carlos Beltran decides to call it a career this Winter – few will disagree that it was an illustrious career for the nine time All Star who would retire with 565 doubles, 435 home runs, 312 stolen bases, and proud membership in the 1,500 RBI and 1,500 Runs Scored Club.
But last night in historic Dodger Stadium, Carlos Beltran put the cherry on top of his Cooperstown Credentials with the one thing that has eluded him for 19 years – a World Series Championship – and the ring he’s wanted since the day he first stepped onto the baseball stage.
And while he may not have had the playing time of his Houston Astros teammates Carlos Correa or a George Springer, the moment was no less special for Beltran who became an inspirational force in the dugout and one of the team’s leaders and motivators.
“I haven’t had a lot of action, like in previous playoffs,” a teary-eyed Beltran told reporters after the Astros’ Game 7 win over the Dodgers.
“I’ve been in the dugout, been active with the younger players, been able to motivate them and give them information about the game. And it allowed me to go, ‘Man, this is great, that God has given me this opportunity at this point in my career.’ Being able to do it, it’s emotional, and it’s special.”
One of the greatest switch-hitters the game has ever seen, Beltran may have put the finishing touches on a Hall of Fame career that may very well see him donning a New York Mets cap on Induction Day.
Beltran, now 40, wasn’t the only one shedding a tear last night as I also had to break out the Kleenex watching him celebrate on the field with his teammates. I was so happy for him and I couldn’t help getting caught up in all the emotion.
Vastly unappreciated during his days with the Mets, the very gifted center fielder put up the best numbers of his career while with the Amazins’, collecting five All Star nods, three gold gloves, two Silver Sluggers, and averaging a 5.0 WAR in his 6 1/2 seasons with the team to go with a 129 OPS+.
I can go on and on all day about Beltran’s distinguished career, his lofty numbers, and his many, many notable accomplishments, but there’s also the class and the dignity with which he carried himself on and off the field that truly exemplified what a special and remarkable human being he truly is.
This was most recently on full display during the Hurricane Maria relief efforts – after his native Puerto Rico was ravaged and left crippled. Beltran personally donated $1 million dollars and has raised an additional $300K to help the families that were left homeless and without food and clean water. He was always looked upon with such pride in Puerto Rico for his baseball achievements, but now they look at him as a hero.
To me Beltran is all that and more. He’s the best all-around position player ever to play for the New York Mets, and his time with the team will always be cherished and appreciated by this Mets fan. Congratulations, Carlos!