On Friday, the Baseball Hall of Fame made it official that Adrian Beltre will be wearing a Texas Rangers hat on his plaque when he is inducted this summer. It was suspected that the nod would go to the Rangers, but there were also several other options given his career path. The fact that Beltre played for four teams and spent significant time with three of those organizations (Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers) meant that any of those were options. It was also a real possibility that he might have one of the blank hats that don't have a logo at all.
But ultimately, the choice of the Texas "T" is the correct one. It also puts Adrian in an extremely small, but robust group of guys that have the Rangers hat on in Cooperstown. Beltre will be joining Nolan Ryan and Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez in this exclusive club. Any group of Hall of Famers is going to be stout, but the Texas Rangers and their fans alike, can be extra proud of the three Rangers hats in the hallowed halls.
Not only were Ryan, Rodriguez, and now Beltre fantastic baseball players, but they were fan favorites and tough as nails. Stats and production over an extended period of time are what gets a player into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but these three exuded much more than that. There is a level of pride when it comes to the state of Texas, and these three typify the hard working, larger than life image that embodies the Texas spirit.
It would be hard to have three representatives of an organization that played as hard as these three did. They are also known for their abilities to play through pain as well. Ryan battled through several issues without batting an eye. He also physically battled on the field as well. It might have been taking a line drive into the chin or putting a youngster in a head lock. He was a competitor and wasn't going to back down from anyone.
Pudge was one of the best catchers to ever put on the gear. There is no other more physically demanding position on the baseball diamond, than catcher. And yet, he would have a career that spanned 21 seasons and 2,543 games. There was no doubt many bumps, bruises, and soreness, not to mention more serious issues that he had to play through. And he did it all with a smile on his face and with the fierceness of a lion.
Beltre fits into the same mold that both Nolan and Pudge came from. An old school player that wasn't scared of hard work and getting after it. Like the two previous Hall of Famers, he had fun despite his intensity. Those are the attributes that make a player a fan favorite. When Alex Rodriguez was in Arlington, he put up video game numbers, but he wasn't well received by the fan base. There was a lack of grit that is appreciated and expected from the Texas faithful.
On Sunday, July 21st Adrian Beltre will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a Texas Ranger. That will be an exciting day for Rangers fans everywhere.
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