Adrian Beltre joined an elite group Sunday afternoon, becoming the 31st player in Major League Baseball history to record 3,000 hits. The Texas Rangers third baseman, playing in his 20th big league season, reached the career achievement on a double in the fourth inning of Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles. He is the first Dominican-born player to achieve the milestone.
His teammates joined him on the field to celebrate the special moment, and amid hugs and high-fives that followed, spectators may have noticed (around the 0:46 mark of the above video) a scowl flash for a half-second across Beltre’s face. Knowledgeable fans of Beltre will of course know the source of his displeasure.
YOU DO NOT TOUCH BELTRE’S HEAD.
The four-time all-star has stated throughout his career how much he dislikes having his head touched, not even allowing his own kids to touch his noggin, per a 2012 interview. That doesn’t actually stop his teammates and baseball-playing friends from trying, as has been recorded numerous times by TV cameras, including Sunday.
Congrats, congrats… GOTCHA! pic.twitter.com/vS5t2H3O5G
— Ranting Oriole Bird (@RantingOriole) July 30, 2017
It’s something so well-known that ESPN referenced it in a tweet following the player’s milestone hit.
He might not like it, but Adrián Beltré might get a few head pats after hit 3,000. pic.twitter.com/hDU6lNlN8G
— ESPN (@espn) July 30, 2017
The prospect of 3,000th-hit head pats unsurprisingly came up in the days leading up to the landmark hit, with reporters asking teammates about what might happen in the moment.
“I leave it be,” pitcher Cole Hamels said Friday (via ESPN). “I respect his space because he’s my elder. He’s been playing this game since I was in diapers.”
Elvis Andrus, Beltre’s chief head-touching antagonist in recent years, said the team would not be avoiding his cranium.
“If he hits a homer, then yes. For sure. A hundred percent. If his 3,000th is a homer, then we’ll all touch his head,” Andrus said. “We’ve talked about it. He said he would let everybody touch his head at least once.”
Hit No. 3,000 wasn’t a dinger, though, so Beltre most certainly wasn’t pleased when Delino DeShields Jr., who told MLB Network Radio two seasons ago that touching Beltre’s head was on his “bucket list,” got a hand on his scalp. (But at least DeShields didn’t get a cup check like Baltimore’s Adam Jones did …)
Beltre, 38, joins Ichiro Suzuki as the only active players to have recorded 3,000 hits. Ichiro reached the milestone last season. Alex Rodriguez was the most recent before that, with his 3,000th hit coming in June 2015.