Now a fan, Beltrán savors Hall of Fame visit

Written by: Craig Muder

Carlos Beltrán walked into the Hall of Fame on Tuesday and looked like he walked right out of an MLB clubhouse.

A year ago, Beltrán was playing for the eventual World Champion Houston Astros – and the nine-time All-Star appears as if he could still stand in against big league pitching. But the broad shoulders and bulging forearms were just a remnant of his past life.

Carlos Beltrán is a fan these days. And as a fan of the game, he wanted to come to Cooperstown.

Beltrán and his family toured the Hall of Fame and soaked in the history, something the five-tool outfielder was unable to do during first and only other trip to Cooperstown in 1999. That year, Beltrán’s Kansas City Royals played in the Hall of Fame Game against the Texas Rangers. En route to winning the 1999 American League Rookie of the Year, Beltrán did not play in the Hall of Fame Game.

“That was my first time in Cooperstown, and we didn’t get to see much,” Beltrán said. “But I love history. I think history is something that we should encourage kids to understand. As a ballplayer, I always tried to introduce myself to the older players, because it was the guys who came before us that gave us all the benefits we got.

“That’s why I wanted to come to Cooperstown: To get to see more of the history of baseball.”

Beltrán authored some of that history himself. One of the game’s most complete players during his 20 years in the big leagues with the Royals, Astros, Mets, Giants, Cardinals, Yankees and Rangers, Beltrán posted seven seasons with at least 100 runs scored, eight seasons with at least 100 RBI and 12 seasons with 20-or-more home runs. A three-time Gold Glove Award winner in center field, Beltrán also stole 312 bases while being caught only 49 times – an astounding 86.4 percent success rate that ranks among the best all-time.

Beltrán saved some of his best performances for the postseason when he hit .307 with 16 home runs and 42 RBI in 65 games. He twice hit four home runs in a single postseason series.

But only now has Beltrán been able to put his career into perspective.

“When I was active, I never thought about (the Hall of Fame). I always tried to focus on the team I was playing for,” Beltrán said. “But as I was passing great players on lists, like doubles or homers, I told my wife that maybe after retirement, when I got closer to that time, I might think about it.

“I believe I left everything on the field. God gave me an opportunity to make a good living in baseball. But when I think about legacy, I don’t think about numbers. I think about the impact on the community and on society. For me, that’s the legacy.”

When Beltrán retired following the 2017 season, his Hall of Fame clock began ticking. He is scheduled to become eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time starting with the 2023 Baseball Writers’ Association of America election.

“The fact that I’m even considered to be (a Hall of Famer) is a dream,” Beltrán said. “If it happens, it would be an amazing thing for the country of Puerto Rico and for my family. But that’s not why I came here today.

“I love the game. And I love the history. I want to take my time, take some pictures and be a fan.”

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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