In 2017 Adrian Beltré went were only a select group of men have gone before – the 3,000 Hit-Club. On first glance this may not seem like much. However, in the 115-year history of Major League Baseball only 29 other men are a part of this exclusive set. And those 29 are not just any men, Beltré joins a club that counts names such as Ty Cobb, Derek Jeter and Roberto Clemente among its members.
Ironically enough, it happened on Independence Day. On a warm and sunny July 4th in the fourth inning Beltré stepped to the plate and cracked a ball to the third base side. It resulted in a double. It wasn’t just any regular base hit, this hit would bring him to immortality in his chosen field and his country, making Beltré the first Dominican player to amass 3,000 hits and make him the all-time hit leader in the Dominican Republic. Talk about a game changer.
Yet, Beltré’s path wasn’t always an easy one. Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Beltré attended Liceo Máximo Gómez High School. While working out at Campo Las Palmas in 1994, a Los Angeles Dodgers facility – one of the first of its kind for MLB team in the Dominican Republic – Beltré was spotted by scouts Ralph Avila and Pablo Peguero. He was just 15 years old and barely weighed a buck o’ five. Yet, he had a quick swing and throwing arm that made you think twice. On the lobbying of Avila and Peguero, the Dodgers signed him in July 1994 for a mere $23,000. Four years later Beltré was called up the majors, playing third base for the Dodgers.
As with most rookies, that first year, was not without challenges and controversy. He would make 13 errors at third and hit an anemic .215. Add to that, it was revealed the Dodgers signed him before attaining the legal age for Major League Baseball resulting in an investigation and suspension of scouting operations for the Dodgers in the Dominican Republic. Though Beltré would continue to improve, he was primarily mired in mediocrity until 2004.