I was born Carlos Ivan Beltran on April 24, 1977 to Wilfredo and Carmen in beautiful Manati, Puerto Rico. I was blessed to grow up in a family that from a young age taught me the value of hard work. Although we weren't poor (at least we never felt like we were) we learned to value and appreciate everything that we had. My father worked hard at a pharmaceutical warehouse to support us and somehow afford my mother the opportunity to stay at home and care for my older brother, my younger twin sisters and me. Looking back, I think my mom's job was probably the hardest, dealing with all of us and making ends meet; I still don't know how she did it?
Growing up sports was always a big part of my life. As a kid I liked playing volleyball and baseball. Once I got into high school, my father encouraged me to focus on one sport and work hard at it. Watching players like my idol switch-hitter Bernie Williams, play during Winter League and reading about legends like Roberto Clemente, I knew this is what I wanted to do. So I took my fathers advice and my dream of playing professional baseball began.
My love for the game and the encouragement of my family helped grow my determination. My father motivated me to practice every chance I had. He would say, "Anything worth having is worth working for". So, I would recruit my brother to practice with me as much as possible. Occasionally, I would find myself without a partner but I was not about to let that stop me. I would carry a bucket of balls and walk to the nearest field (about five miles away from my house) and throw them at a target in one direction. I would practice over and over, each time aiming at a target further away.
During my senior year at Fernando Callejos High School my dream was suddenly becoming a reality. I had scouts coming to watch my games and before I knew it I was officially a Kansas City Royal… it was incredible! My parents were proud of me but all the while they said, "Don't get ahead of yourself, take each day at a time and most importantly don't ever stop working!"
My first year was a learning experience, not only did I have to learn English but I also wanted to absorb everything I could from the veteran players around me. It was great but at the same time it was difficult, mostly because I was in a different country with nothing that was familiar to me. I was really homesick but I knew this was a necessary sacrifice in order to fulfill my dream of playing in the major leagues.
The next three years were surreal. I played Winter Ball with my idol Bernie Willams; that experience alone was huge because he influenced me to learn how to switch hit. My biggest moment came when the 25-man roster was expanded to 40 and I was called up to the Major Leagues. On September 14, 1998 I got my first hit off Oakland's Buddy Groom and it felt amazing! This was my first taste of the Majors and I liked it. I wanted to stay on the roster and knew that I would have to work harder than I ever before.
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