Carlos Beltrán’s five best baseball moments
Outfielder retires as a World Series winner with the Houston Astros after a 20-year MLB career
Carlos Beltrán is going out on top. After an accomplished 20-year career in major league baseball, the center fielder and Houston Astros designated hitter wrote in The Players’ Tribune on Monday that he has decided to call it quits.
Beltrán retires after an illustrious career, one that actually didn’t involve going through Triple-A. So we’ve compiled five of Beltrán’s best moments in baseball. Although five isn’t nearly enough for someone of his pedigree, below are some high notes, highlight-reel plays and a personal anecdote about one of his best days.
1. Finishes 20-year career with 2017 World Series title
Leading up to the 2017 MLB postseason, Beltrán had a résumé that included nine All-Star Game selections, three Gold Gloves, two Silver Slugger honors and the 1999 American League Rookie of the Year Award. But the one thing every baseball player competes for each season, a World Series title, had eluded him during his 20-year career, which included stops on seven teams.
Beltrán missed out on his first trip to a Fall Classic 11 years earlier with his game-ending strikeout in Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series as a member of the New York Mets. Seven years later, the center fielder tasted his first World Series action as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Boston Red Sox won that series 4-2.
In his final major league season, Beltrán finally picked a winner, as the Houston Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-3, in the 2017 World Series. The 40-year-old designated hitter was brought to tears as he finally got his World Series title in his last game as a player.
2. Ties Barry BonDS for most homers in a single postseason
There’s only Barry Bonds (2002), Beltrán (2004) and Nelson Cruz (2011) when it comes to most home runs in a single postseason. However, Beltrán’s 2004 heroics are on a plateau of their own, as he hit his eight postseason deep balls in only 56 appearances at the plate, while Bonds needed 74 and Cruz required 70.
In the first postseason game of his career, Beltrán took Atlanta Braves starter Jaret Wright to task with a two-run homer in the fifth inning of Game 1 of the National League Division Series. While Bonds’ and Cruz’s teams advanced to their respective World Series, Beltrán’s Astros fell short, losing to the Cardinals in the NLCS.
3. three-run shot Hits the “H” on the Mariners’ scoreboard
With two outs and two on and the Texas Rangers trailing 8-0 in the top of the sixth inning, Beltrán belted Ariel Miranda’s pitch with so much force that when it hit the “H” on the scoreboard, it knocked it down on Sept. 7, 2016.
It wasn’t enough to help the Rangers win — they lost, 8-3, to the Seattle Mariners — but Beltrán’s hitting streak was kept alive and extended to 10 games.
4. Becomes fourth switch-hitter to hit 400 home runs
After 19 seasons in the big leagues, in May 2016, Beltrán became only the third Puerto Rican, the fourth switch-hitter and 54th player overall to hit 400 home runs.
Beltrán is one of five players to amass 500 doubles, 400 homers and 300 stolen bases in his career, joining Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Andre Dawson and Willie Mays. Carlos Delgado and Juan Gonzalez are the other two Puerto Rican players to hit 400 or more homers; Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray and Chipper Jones are the other switch-hitters to reach the milestone.
His 400th dinger was a biggie, too, as it was a sixth-inning, two-run home run off Chicago White Sox reliever Zach Duke that gave the New York Yankees a 5-4 lead. New York went on to win the game 7-5.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Beltran told MLB.com. “You mention three great players, and just to be next to them, it motivates me to continue, to finish my career strong and just see what I’m capable of doing.”
5. Private batting practice with Barry Bonds
On a personal note that Beltrán revealed in the Players’ Tribune piece announcing his retirement, he described one of the best days in his career when he received what was essentially a private hitting lesson from Barry Bonds during the 2007 All-Star Weekend.
Beltrán wouldn’t have walked up to Bonds had it not been for advice he received from golfer Chi-Chi Rodriguez at the beginning of his career about not being afraid to approach people who are successful.
I was standing in the clubhouse at AT&T Park in San Francisco when I saw Barry Bonds in the corner, sitting at his locker. Now, most players only have one locker. Some guys have two. But Barry? He had like five lockers … and a TV … and a recliner — like a massage chair. He owned an entire corner of the clubhouse. I think a lot of players were intimidated by him just because he was Barry Bonds. He was the best player in the world, and he just had this … presence. And when he was sitting in his corner of the clubhouse, he basically felt unapproachable.
I thought about Chi-Chi’s advice, and I walked over to Barry’s corner, went up behind him and tapped him on the back.
He turned around and said, “Hey, Carlos. How are you doing?”
I felt like a little kid. It was an honor to me that he even knew my name.
Then I said to him, “Barry, when is a good opportunity for us to talk about hitting?”
He paused for a moment to think, and then he got up and said, “O.K., let’s go.”
Then he led me out of the clubhouse and out to the cages.
So there I was, alone with the best player in the world, and he was basically giving me a private hitting lesson.
Just because I asked.