Craig Biggio
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Craig Biggio
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    Retired baseball star, Craig Biggio, was born December 14, 1965 in Smithtown, New York. He is a former Major League Baseball player who played his entire career with the Houston Astros. He ranks 20th all-time with 3,060 career hits, and is the ninth player in the 3000 hit club to get all his hits with the same team. He is now the head varsity baseball coach for St. Thomas High School in Houston, Texas.

    Craig Biggio was called up as a catcher midway through the 1988 season, having batted .344 in his minor league career. In 1989, his first full season, Biggio became the Astros' starting catcher. He won the Silver Slugger award in 1989. Biggio was a very speedy runner, and an adept base stealer. Astros' management, in an attempt to keep the rigors of catching from sapping Biggio's speed, tried him in the outfield part-time in 1990, as he had played 18 games there in the minors.

    The Astros finally convinced Biggio to convert to second base in spring training 1992, even though Biggio had made the National League All-Star team as a catcher in 1991. Biggio made the All-Star team for the second time in 1992, becoming the first player in the history of baseball to be an All-Star at both catcher and second base. It is remarkably rare for a major league catcher to make a successful transition to middle infielder. If a catcher changes positions, it is usually to first base, or occasionally to outfield or third base.

    Biggio became known as a reliable, hustling, consistent leadoff hitter, with unusual power for a second baseman. He holds the National League record for most home runs to lead off a game, with fifty. His statistics reflect this, having consistently good marks in hitting, on-base percentage, hit-by-pitch, runs, stolen bases, and doubles throughout his career.

    Yogi Berra, when asked about Biggio being short for a catcher, said "Short catchers are better, because they don't have to stand up as far."

    Craig Biggio played 1,800 games without a trip to the disabled list until August 1, 2000, when he suffered a season-ending knee injury. In the play in which Biggio was injured, the Florida Marlins' Preston Wilson (who would later become Biggio's teammate) slid into second base, trying to stop a double play, and hit Biggio's planted left leg, tearing the ACL and MCL in Biggio's knee. Biggio rebounded with a good season in 2001, but had a lackluster performance in 2002, with only a .253 average, his lowest since entering the league.

    However, he improved slightly for the 2003 season, averaging .264 with 166 hits despite being asked by management to move to center field after the signing of free agent All-Star second baseman Jeff Kent. In 2004, he put up numbers more typical for his career, batting .281 with 178 hits, including a career high 24 homers. Biggio moved to yet another new position, left field, midway through the 2004 season to accommodate Carlos Beltrán, who was acquired in a trade to help bolster the Astros' struggling offense.

    For the 2005 season, Biggio moved back to second base after Kent left for the Dodgers. Biggio set a new career high by hitting 26 home runs and during the season hit his 1000th RBI becoming the second Astro with 1000 RBI for Houston (the first being Jeff Bagwell). Biggio played in the World Series in 2005 for the first time in his eighteen year career. On May 23, 2006, Biggio became the 23rd player in MLB history with 10,000 at-bats.

    Biggio's hit counter, prior to the start of the 2007 seasonOn June 28, 2007, Biggio became the 27th player in the history of Major League Baseball to join the 3000 hit club, with a single against Colorado Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook, even though he was tagged out on the play as he tried to stretch it into a double to draw a throw and allow a run to score. The game action paused while Biggio shared the moment with his wife and children. Longtime friend and former teammate Jeff Bagwell emerged from the Astros clubhouse to congratulate him. Biggio became the first player in Astros history to accumulate 3,000 hits.

    In anticipation of Biggio's reaching 3,000 hits, the Astros installed a digital counter just left of center field displaying his current hit total.

    With 668 doubles, he ended his career in 5th place on the all-time list. Biggio also holds the record for the most doubles by a right-handed hitter. Biggio is the only player in the history of baseball with 3000 hits, 600 doubles, 400 stolen bases, and 250 home runs. Biggio ranks 20th on the all-time hits list, though of those 20 players he ranks 19th in career batting average. Only Cal Ripken hit for a lower career average.

    Biggio fell nine home runs short of joining the career 300-300 club (300 homers and 300 stolen bases). He would have become only the seventh player to achieve the feat. Incidentally, this also caused him to fall short of the 3,000 hits, 300 homers and 300 stolen bases mark he would have been only the second player in history to reach that club, the other being Willie Mays.

    On July 24, 2007, Biggio announced his retirement, effective at the end of the season (his 20th season with the club, a franchise record). Hours later, with the Astros locked in a 3-3 tie with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Biggio hit a grand slam in the 6th inning. The Astros went on to win the game 7–4.

    In the penultimate game of his career, Biggio started as a catcher and caught 2 innings for the Astros. He also hit a double in his first at-bat of the game.

    A sellout, record-breaking crowd packed Minute Maid Park on September 30, 2007, to witness Biggio's final game. He recorded his final career hit, a double in the first inning, and scored his final career run that same inning. In his final career at-bat, he grounded the ball to third baseman Chipper Jones, who threw out the hustling Biggio by half a step. He left the field to a standing ovation from the fans, and when he was replaced defensively in the top of the 8th inning he shook hands with umpires and teammates and left to another standing ovation as he waved to the fans.

    A book documenting that final game has been released by Bright Sky Press in Houston, Texas. "Biggio: The Final Game" contains 120 color photographs by photographer Michael Hart, and a foreword by former Astros great Larry Dierker, as well as an after word by Houston Chronicle columnist and ESPN Radio contrbutor Richard Justice.

    Biggio finished his career with 3,060 career hits, 668 doubles, 291 home runs, 1175 RBI, 414 stolen bases, and a .281 batting average.

    On May 18, 2008, Biggio accepted the position of baseball coach for St. Thomas High School in Houston, Texas.

    Over his career, Biggio gained a reputation for being hit by pitches. Some have even gone so far as to proclaim him the "king of hit batsmen." On June 29, 2005, Biggio broke the modern-era career hit-by-pitch record, previously held by Don Baylor with 267. He is second to only Hughie Jennings on the all-time list with 287. Despite being hit by a record number of pitches, Biggio never charged the mound, and had no serious injuries as a result of being hit.

    In his final season, however, Biggio was only hit three times. He was hit fewer times total between 2006 and 2007 (9 times in 2006, total of 12) than he was in 10 of his previous 11 individual seasons. In August 2007, the satirical online newspaper The Onion referenced this in the article, "Craig Biggio Blames Media Pressure For Stalling At 285 Hit-By-Pitches". Biggio sent an arm guard to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in recognition of his high hit-by-pitch total.

    On May 23, 2008, during a pre-game ceremony in which Biggio received an award for MLB.com's This Year in Baseball 2007 Moment of the Year award for his 3,000th hit on June 28, the Astros announced that they would retire Craig Biggio's jersey in a ceremony on August 17. The Houston Astros retired his No. 7 jersey on August 17, 2008, prior to the start of a game versus the Arizona Diamondbacks. Biggio was the tenth player in Astros history to have his number retired most recently, Biggio's longtime teammate Jeff Bagwell had his No. 5 retired in 2007.

    Biggio and his wife, Patty (Egan), have three children: son Conor Joseph, son Cavan Thomas and daughter Quinn Patricia. They currently live in Houston, Texas, where Craig is head baseball coach at St. Thomas High School.



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