Mi Hermano y Yo: Beltré, Andrus reflect on 3000 and friendship

Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltré share more than covering the left side of the Texas Rangers infield. Since 2011, the two have become hermanos.

In the field and at the bat, they exude the joy and intensity that is Latino baseball, the game they grew up playing in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

Their hermanidad (brotherhood) comes from not only being teammates over a 162-game season but also the shared experience of arriving in the U.S. as teenagers and achieving their goal of becoming big leaguers. It’s a relationship where each shares the knowledge acquired along the way as they remind each other why they play the game.

As Beltré turns 39, we revisit one of the grandest moments in his career: his chase for 3,000 hits. What made that moment special was having both his Dominican family and his baseball family on hand to witness number 3,000.

Among the witnesses that day was his “little brother” Elvis Andrus.

Chasing 3,000

The chase for 3,000 ran late into July. The Rangers were on the road when Beltré hit 2,999. He wanted to get that hit at home, in front of family and the Texas fans.

It wasn’t just fans that were anxious to witness Beltré reach the hit that would make him the 31st member of MLB’s 3,000 hit club. Three -thousand hits means a lot. For Latinos, part of the significance of that achievement is in who is waiting at exactly 3,000 hits: Roberto Clemente.

Everyone was watching Beltré on July 30. Watching each move the third baseman made. Observing how he took each at-bat.

His Rangers teammates were anxious and affected how they reacted each time Beltré stepped into the batter’s box. They picked specific spots in the dugout to stand. Some jostled for position along the railing to get a better view. If it Beltré didn’t get a hit, they did the whole exercise over again his next plate appearance.

And then there was Andrus.

Andrus admitted that he felt nervous throughout his teammate’s pursuit. Players are creatures of habit; they find comfort in their rituals. Yet Andrus typically avoided superstitious practices. They are not for him. That is until he saw his Dominican hermano trying to get the elusive 3,000th hit.

“I’m not a superstitious player,” Andrus told La Vida, “but in that moment I think that was the first time I was superstitious. If you can see the video, everybody was standing up, watching, hoping for that three-thousandth hit. And I was the only one [. And it was because the two at-bats before I was standing up and he didn’t get a hit. So I was like ‘Let me go sit, he might get a hit.” And as soon as I sit down, he hit that double down the line and it was just a lot of joy,”

Mi Hermano y Yo

Sharing a grand moment like getting his 3,000 hit was made even more special due to the relationship Beltré had established with his Rangers teammates, especially Elvis Andrus.

The two are simpatico, act like kin. Watching them in action from infield practice to batting practice to in-game action, you see the bond they share. They get each other and they also know how to get to each other.

What keeps them going is having fun on the baseball diamond. They constantly poke fun at each other. Little brother sees his role keeping big brother loose, reminding him of the joy of playing baseball.

Andrus shared his philosophy about his life in baseball. It is the reminder that for him, if you love what your work is, then it should be fun. And others should see the joy one is having at that work.

“I think when you do something, when you have a job you actually have joy and enjoy it and you laugh all the time, that’s a pretty cool job to have. And I think that 99% of baseball players, we’re really happy with what we do. So that’s me and Adrian. We just trying to do that in the field. Just go out there, enjoy, and have fun.”

Andrus went further into why he wants everyone to remember the joy of baseball, of the special blessing it is to be able to play the game for a living.

“Well I think that one of the things that a lot of guys, especially here in the big leagues forget sometimes is the fun part. That was the reason that you started playing this game because of how much joy and how much fun you have. And when you lose that side, when you lose the kid side of you, the beginning of everything, I think that’s not cool.”’

A childlike sense of excitement was never far from Beltré as he closed in on 3,000. Perhaps because of both the hermanidad and immediate family that surrounded him.

A Special Night

The chase for 3,000 was both fun and unnerving for Beltré. The media attention was much larger than for your typical mid-season July games. Everywhere he went there was media. And their questions.

“It was fun after it happened,” said Beltré. “The whole process, I expected it to happen, obviously. But the whole process with the media, expecting when it’s going to happen and the whole thing, it wasn’t my favorite, but I wanted it to happen.”

Looking back on the game versus Baltimore and his 2017 season, Beltré recognizes that he has accomplished something quite significant. That is what he shared when sitting with La Vida during spring training and reflecting on 3,000.

“Well now that I had time to think about it, the accomplishment is something that I would never take for granted. Just being able to be the thirty first, thirty second person to do it, it was never in my mind to get to this milestone.”

Hitting that ball down the line into left-field, standing at second base and then seeing his children running towards him made it all worthwhile—the years in the minors, not letting self-doubt enter when the Dodgers, Seattle, and Boston all were willing to let him go.

“What I remember the most was all the fans being ready with the cameras and taking pictures. And my family waiting for it. And just the expectation of just getting it over with.”

Family made getting number 3,000 all the more special. Having his wife and kids in attendance and having his baseball family right there with him. The celebration made it worth the wait.

“The moment that got me was seeing my kids running in the field. That was my favorite moment the whole year, last year. Just having the experience with my kids and they being there to witness it.”

Hermanos inseperables (Inseparable Brothers)

For “big brother” Adrian Beltré, he appreciates both Andrus’s approach and his symbiotic relationship with the younger player.

“He keeps my young. At the same time he gets some wisdom from me. We try to keep the relationship big brother, little brother.”

Andrus describes their relationship similarly.

“Our relationship is like a big brother relationship because I learn so much from him. All the advice he has given me, my life, my career. But just watching, the way he prepares, his work ethic. He’s older, but he’s still challenges himself and that’s not easy to find in somebody that has had such an amazing career.”

What does Andrus think of his “big brother”? Of his hermano?

”Adrian Beltre’s unique. He doesn’t try do it all. When he’s hitting, the toe tap that he does. Check into the umpire at first base. Screaming all over the place. He’s unique.”

That uniqueness has made Adrian Beltré worth the price of admission. Because he is worth watching from when the gates open for fans to the last pitch of the game, from his antics during fielding practice or his fielding line drives down the third baseline during the game. One never knows whether he will be hitting a home run while swinging from his knees, or when he just might move the batting circle to get a closer view at the opposing pitcher while on deck. Adrian Beltré is a latino beisbol unico, and a gift to baseball.

Featured Image: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty Images Sport