Happy birthday to Adrian Beltre. The Texas Rangers great and future Hall of Famer turns 41 today.
Man, I miss Adrian Beltre. We sang his praises back when he announced his retirement, reminisced, celebrated him, and it still seems strange that he’s no longer an active player. Adrian Beltre seemed like he would play forever.
And you know, he almost did. Beltre spent parts of 21 seasons in the major leagues. He was born in 1979, and he was the first player born in 1979 to make the major leagues, breaking in at age 19 in 1998.*
* Four players born in 1979 debuted in 1999. There’s Rick Ankiel, who was arguably just as talented as Beltre, and whose career path ended up being even weirder. There’s Byung-Hyun Kim, the sidearming pitcher who was almost the goat of the 2001 World Series. There’s Matt Riley, who was briefly a Ranger. And there’s an infielder named Travis Dawkins, who I didn’t recognize until I saw he played for the Reds and realized it was Gookie Dawkins. The 2000 debuts for 1979 births include two legitimately great lefties in Johan Santana and Mark Buehrle, the platonic ideal of a LAIE in Jon Garland, a promising pitcher whose career was de-railed by injuries in Ruben Quevedo, a toolsy high school outfielder from Georgia who had a lengthy career in Corey Patterson, a former University of Miami quarterback in Kenny Kelly, and a random Minnesota Twins infielder in Luis Rivas.
Beltre’s last season in the majors, meanwhile, was 2018. And he was, along with Brad Ziegler, the last player born in 1979 to play in the majors — he and Ziegler each played in 2018, and each retired after the season was over.
The other thing about Adrian Beltre is that he feels like someone who has always been a Ranger. That isn’t the case, of course — he had played in 13 different seasons with three different clubs, including putting up one of the all time great seasons in MLB history with the Dodgers in 2004, before ever coming to Texas.
But when baseball thinks of Adrian Beltre, they think of him in a Ranger uniform. It was with Texas where he was recognized as a superstar, where his infectious personality and joy of playing the game really came out, where he was embraced as one of the game’s most beloved players.
We were lucky to not just have Adrian Beltre, but have the best of Adrian Beltre, and be able to have him playing for our team during the time when the rest of the baseball world realized how awesome he truly was.
Happy birthday, Adrian.