HALTOM CITY, Texas -- When Adrian Beltre hit his much-anticipated 3000th career hit yesterday, his teammates were ready to celebrate with him on the field. But they also were ready with a special gift from a North Texas artist.
"I was watching every game while I'm working, and I was saying, ok, he still needs 12 more, so I'm good," said Vernon Wells, Jr.
Wells, Jr. said that he approached Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus with the idea to paint a special portrait for Beltre's milestone.
"I ran it by Elvis, to see if he thought it'd be a good idea for the team to give it to him as a gift when he gets it," he recalled.
It's not his first time painting Beltre -- the player commissioned him for a piece a few years ago.
Wells, Jr. paints photo-realistic portraits of professional athletes in his Haltom City studio. He uses a variety of tools, including an airbrush to achieve dramatic gradient effects.
He's incredibly talented, and his work has become popular with an incredibly talented audience. Nearly all of his customers are professional athletes.
"I wanted to directly market myself to the players," he said.
Wells, Jr. started painting after his own dreams of playing in the NFL ended. He began painting teammates and other football players and soon spread to other sports.
By his estimation, he has painted thousands of athletes over a 40-year career, including his son Vernon Wells III, who had a long career in the MLB playing for the Blue Jays, the Angels and the Yankees. But he has a special relationship with his hometown team, the Texas Rangers. He's now planning a book to showcase his Texas Rangers' work.
"It's been over 70 paintings that I've done that are Ranger-related," he said.
He worked for several weeks to complete the Beltre portrait and deliver it on time. It was ready yesterday, presented to Beltre after he hit 3000.
"He'll be in the Hall of Fame," said Wells.
And Wells, Jr.'s portrait will hang proudly on his wall.