Today my entire family held our breaths in order to hear Houston Astro Craig Biggio’s name called. We’ve been waiting for three years for his acceptance to the Baseball Hall of Fame. And today we finally heard the magic words that will solidify a childhood hero to the ranks of sports idol.
With 3,060 hits, Biggio played his entire 20-year career (1988-2009) in Houston. First as a catcher, then moving to second base, then outfield, then back to second base. (All-Staring as both a catcher and a second baseman.) That just doesn’t happen anymore. He wasn’t chasing a train of Benjamins all over the country. He was a stand-up guy invested in both the Astros and in Houston. So there’s no doubt which team’s cap he’ll be wearing when he’s inducted. In fact, he’ll be the first wearing an Astros hat to do so.
Come July, he’ll join the elite; his legacy saved in perpetuity with the immortals of America’s favorite pastime.
“Welcome to Cooperstown.”
My family has loved the Astros for as long as I can remember. My grandparents were season-ticket holders since the ‘Stros played in the Astrodome. Nestled between home plate and first base, they made lifelong friends and memories, cheering on their team and displaying fierce loyalty through the seasons.
When in Houston, we’d find ourselves in their world of stripes and stars, learning about the game as we went and playing with stacks of old ticket stubs when we got home.
It’s what we did when we were in town. It’s what we talked about when we were together. It’s what we watched on TV. They pulled us in with their enthusiasm and fierce devotion, and we quickly learned how to be passionate winners and gracious losers.
So, it’s in my blood. Baseball, yes, but to be clear: Astros baseball.
Biggio became our Astro hero early on. He was a phenomenal find for the team and his boyish grin gained him a lot of (female) fans quickly.
He was the reason my brother was always #7, a tradition that lasted through his college intramural team.
I can even remember this poster hanging in my brother’s closet for years, showing a young Biggio (and Caminiti, my other favorite Astro!). Quite the strong message cast upon impressionable young boys and girls alike.
Perhaps my favorite memory was from September 14, 1990—my grandparents’ 40th wedding anniversary—when Pops got to throw out the first pitch to a young Craig Biggio, just two years into what would be his incredible career. My uncle Phil says he remembers Pops throwing a ball against the brick wall at home to practice. After throwing Biggio the heater, they walked back from the plate together and Pops said he told him “you need to move up closer to the plate so you can reach the low and away fastballs.” I like to think Craig took him up on that unsolicited advice. (They won that game, 2-1, against the Giants.)
This love of the Astros, led by Biggio and his fellow Killer B’s, took us to 2005—their World Series’ run. Though it was short-lived, our family was at all of the home games and I wore my Astros pin every day to school in Cincinnati.
I watched Biggio play for over 2/3 of my life. My family was there when he made his 3,000th hit and my grandfather had the newspaper article and poster hanging in his room for years afterward. One of us has always been there.
Joe and I cheered him on in 2005 when they played the Reds in Cincinnati. It would be the last time I saw him play.
We’ve watched a lot of baseball players through the years, but none have ever come close to being the class act that Biggio has always been. He embodies everything that’s wonderful about baseball. And we, like most of Houston, would never get enough.
Me and Biggio, blurred by my overwhelming adoration I’m sure:
Knowing this now, you can probably imagine why I became so emotional that Biggio would finally get the recognition he so deserves. He gave his all to the sport, his all for Houston, but he gave our family so much more.
Phil said it best today, as the family was exchanging excited texts back and forth:
“I think it is great that over 50 years later the seeds that Pop planted along with Mamacita (Memaw) for the love of baseball have come full circle and have us all passionate, excited and still loving our heroes from the days gone by. It was a great way to enjoy life and share baseball at its highest level. We became Astro Fans for life in those seats. Thanks to Mom and Pop both for making our lives fuller for the experience. Play Ball…”
I wish Pops could have seen this day, though I bet he knew it would happen.
This is a love that has now spanned four generations.
And provided countless wonderful memories.
So, here’s to Craig: It’s been a privilege and a pleasure as Phil would say. You make us so proud and we thank you for everything.
See you in New York, slugger.