After 20 seasons, Carlos Beltran is leaving baseball on top.
After winning his first World Series ring with the Houston Astros this year, the outfielder is retiring, he announced Monday in a personal essay for The Players' Tribune.
"I am blessed to have played this game for 20 years. I am blessed to have played for so many great organizations," he wrote. "And I am blessed to be a champion."
Beltan played for seven teams -- Kansas City Royals, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers and Houston Astros -- and made nine All-Star appearances. He won the 1999 AL Rookie of the Year award and three Gold Gloves.
But he almost didn't even pursue the sport, he revealed in his Tribune essay. The Puerto Rican native was equally passionate about volleyball as a teenager, but he ultimately realized there is more opportunity for success in baseball.
Baseball, he wrote, was always about more than winning.
"And as I got older, and I became the player that the younger guys came to for advice, I started to understand something … that my purpose in this game is not only to hit home runs or to win championships. It is to share what I know with the younger players, like so many other players have done for me," he wrote. "It is to give back to the game of baseball."
He realized this purpose when he nervously approached slugger Barry Bonds during the 2007 All-Star weekend to ask for hitting advice and Bonds received him with kindness and a willingness to coach him.
He finishes his 20-year career with with a .279 average, 435 homers, 1,587 RBIs and 312 stolen bases.
Beltran said he never felt pressured to win a World Series before he retired, determined instead to "give back to the game of baseball."
"But it still feels nice to have a ring," he wrote.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.