Ahead of this weekend's series with the Texas Rangers, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he and his players have so much respect for third baseman Adrián Beltré that he posited if Beltré didn't collect the four hits required to get him to 3,000 while they were in town, they'd all be trying to watch it on TV when he ended up reaching that milestone.
It turns out they got a pretty good view.
With two hits Friday, one on Saturday, and a fourth-inning double off Wade Miley Sunday, Beltré became the 31st player in major league history with 3,000 hits and the first ever Dominican-born player to reach that mark.
"It's an honor to be here for it," Showalter said. "You couldn't have drawn it up better where we win and you get a chance to see that. I think everybody in the game has a lot of respect for him, not only statistically, but the way he's handled his success over the years. Not once has this guy embarrassed his family or his team or anything like that. It's a lot like how I talked about Jeter, you know? That's as big a challenge sometimes as 3,000 hits. But take a good look at it. I didn't realize he was the first Dominican player. That's surprising. That's a pretty big feat. I know he's got to take a lot of national pride in that, too."
The game was briefly delayed to fete him, with Beltré's Rangers teammates flooding out of the dugout to congratulate him. His three children ran out to center field to unveil a placard on the wall celebrating his 3,000 hits, and once the field cleared, Beltré hugged each of the Orioles' position players, including former Texas teammates Chris Davis and Craig Gentry, on the field as Miley took a few warmup tosses.
Center fielder Adam Jones, who began his career in Seattle with Beltre, even took a playful jab to the gut after trying to touch his former teammate's head, something the Hall of Fame-bound third baseman is famously averse to.
"Just as a baseball fan, that's unbelievable," Jones said. "He's seen my first hit. He's seen all my firsts in the big leagues, as a player, and for me to see a lot of his hits and No. 3,000, for me as a fan of his and a friend of his, that's pretty special to get to share that moment with him and see his family."
"Oh man, it was amazing," added third baseman Manny Machado, who was Beltré's teammate for the Dominican Republic in this spring's World Baseball Classic. "As a baseball fan, we get to see that. It's obviously a great accomplishment. To get 3,000 hits, only 30 players had done that. To be a part of that history was amazing, and obviously, he's a friend and a teammate that I played with. I was excited to see him as a Dominican player to be the first to get to that milestone."
Miley said he wasn't surprised that Beltré ended up swinging away at a 3-0 pitch, when hitters typically take a walk.
"He got me the other day in Baltimore, swung 3-0," he sadi. "I thought he was going to dive out over, that's why I tried to go in. but he was ready for it. There's a reason why he's got 3,000 hits."
Beltre, in turn, said he appreciated Miley challenging him with the three-ball count instead of conceding a walk.
Showalter said at the beginning of the series that save for whoever the responsible pitcher was, the Orioles would be happy to congratulate one of the game's statesmen for his achievement.
"You don't see too many players so universally respected," Showalter said. "Everything he does on the field is sincere. He smiles easily, he cares what his teammates think, he's always got time for everybody—and I haven't had it. I don't think there's anybody in the game who has more universal respect from the opposition. He's been an entertainer in a lot of ways. I love watching him play. And he was that way the first time I saw him in LA. Nothing has changed. You probably want to take a good look, because there's not going to be too many 3,000 [hit] people. ... He always seems like he's playing his first game in Little League."
His former teammate in Texas, first baseman Chris Davis, said ahead of Saturday's game that he hoped he'd get it in the next few days.
"I think his relentlessness [stands out]," Davis said. "You've seen him hobbling down the first base line, pulling up and clearly injured or hurt and continue to stay in the game the produce. That's is the kind of guy he is. He comes in every day ready to play. He's a fun guy to be around. He makes other people better and I'm happy for him. I'm excited and I hope he does get it while we are here. That is a part of history. It will be something special."
Beltré became the second player to collect his 3,000th hit against the Orioles, with the first being Baltimore native Al Kaline of the Detroit Tigers in 1972.