Carlos Beltrán is a surefire Hall of Fame baseball player, with nine All-Star appearances and 2,725 career hits and counting in his 20-year career in the MLB. However, for more than 10 years, Beltrán has been marred by one moment. In 2006, Beltrán was playing for the New York Mets as they battled through the National League playoffs. In game seven of the league’s championship series, down two runs, he stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth. With two outs and bases loaded, he struck out looking. Beltrán now travels with the Houston Astros to the World Series, and while he finally has a chance to win a championship, he also finds his voice off the field in the twilight of his career.
Despite Houston’s ongoing recovery from Hurricane Harvey, the Astros have emerged as the city’s champion team. While Beltrán plays for Houston, his homeland of Puerto Rico is also struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and is in desperate need of resources. In the midst of his team’s playoff run, Beltrán has not missed the opportunity to become a philanthropist and humanitarian.
Beltrán and his family donated $1 million to help kickstart a hurricane relief fund for Puerto Rico, which has already raised nearly $1.5 million to date. With the help of Astros owner Jim Crane, he has also chartered six separate flights, containing over 300,000 pounds of supplies including water, clothing, and diapers. Each flight costs $135,000, but they have gone a long way for Puerto Rico, as just 10 percent of the island has energy and 40 percent has potable water, according to Beltrán, who has been trying to stay in contact with his family on the island.
“I talked to my brother like four days ago,” Beltran said to ESPN.com. “Today I was able to talk to him again. He was trying to get gas. He’s been in the line for almost 27 hours. He just called me to talk to me a little bit and inform me about the situation over there. It’s not good, man. ”
His team is coming off of a heart-wrenching series in the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees. The Astros jumped off to a 2–0 start as they took both of their home games, but their lead was short-lived. After the Yankees took the next three games in the Bronx, the Astros went back to Houston facing an elimination game six. The Astros ultimately took the last two games and the series, but through all of the drama it has been hard for Beltrán to stay focused on the team.
“Of course, my body’s here,” Beltrán said to ESPN.com. “My mind and my soul is with my people in Puerto Rico. It’s going to be like that until I see that things are starting to get better.”
Beltrán has dominated the MLB since joining it in 1998, and has been a role model on all seven teams he has played on. He has been so close to a World Series several times, with seven playoff appearances, 2,586 regular-season games, and 11,031 plate appearances. Now at 40 years old, his impact on the field is not what it once was, but as he begins to impact the country in other ways, he might also finally get the ring he always deserved.