Biggio speaking at the 2015 National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony
|Second baseman / Catcher|
|Born: December 14, 1965|
Smithtown, New York
|June 26, 1988, for the Houston Astros|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 30, 2007, for the Houston Astros|
|Runs batted in||1,175|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Vote||82.7% (third ballot)|
Craig Alan Biggio (; born December 14, 1965) is an American former second baseman, outfielder and catcher in Major League Baseball who played his entire career from 1988 through 2007 for the Houston Astros. A seven-time National League (NL) All-Star often regarded as the greatest all-around player in Astros history, he is the only player ever to be named an All-Star at both catcher and second base. With longtime teammates Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman, he formed the core of the "Killer B's" who led Houston to six playoff appearances from 1997 to 2005, culminating in the franchise's first World Series appearance in 2005. At the end of his career, he ranked sixth in NL history in games played (2,850), fifth in at bats (10,876), 21st in hits (3,060), and seventh in runs scored (1,844). His 668 career doubles ranked fifth in major league history, and are the most ever by a right-handed hitter; his 56 doubles in 1999 were the most in the major leagues in 63 years.
Biggio, who batted .300 four times and scored 100 runs eight times, holds Astros franchise records for most career games, at bats, hits, runs scored, doubles, total bases (4,711) and extra base hits (1,014), and ranks second in runs batted in (1,175), walks (1,160) and stolen bases (414). He also holds the NL record for most times leading off a game with a home run (53), and is one of only five players with 250 home runs and 400 steals. A four-time Gold Glove Award winner who led NL second basemen in assists six times and putouts five times, he retired ranking fourth in NL history in games at second base (1,989), sixth in assists (5,448) and fielding percentage (.984), seventh in putouts (3,992) and double plays (1,153), and eighth in total chances (9,596). He was the ninth player in the 3,000 hit club to collect all his hits with one team. Biggio also led the NL in times hit by pitch five times, with his career total of 285 trailing only Hughie Jennings' 287 in major league history.
One of the most admired players of his generation, Biggio received the 2005 Hutch Award for perseverance through adversity and the 2007 Roberto Clemente Award for sportsmanship and community service. The Astros retired the number 7 in his honor the year following his retirement. Since 2008, Biggio has served as special assistant to the general manager of the Astros. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015, and is the first member of the Hall to be depicted in an Astros uniform on his plaque.
Craig Biggio graduated from Kings Park High School in Kings Park, New York, where he excelled as a multi-sport varsity athlete. Most notably, after the 1983 season Biggio was awarded the Hansen Award, which recognized him as being the best football player in Suffolk County. However, Biggio's passion lay with baseball, such that he turned down football scholarships for the opportunity to play baseball for Seton Hall University.
Although Biggio was an infielder, Seton Hall coach Mike Sheppard switched him to catcher because the team was in need of one. In 1986, he played collegiate summer baseball in the Cape Cod Baseball League for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.
Biggio was an All-American baseball player at Seton Hall, where he played with other future Major League Baseball stars Mo Vaughn and John Valentin. Biggio, Vaughn and Valentin, along with Marteese Robinson, were featured in the book The Hit Men and the Kid Who Batted Ninth by David Siroty, which chronicled their rise from college teammates to the major leagues.
Biggio was selected by the Houston Astros in the first round (22nd overall) of the 1987 draft. Biggio remains Seton Hall's leader in triples, second in runs scored, and is in the top 10 in 18 other single-season and career categories. In 1996, Biggio was inducted into the Seton Hall Hall of Fame and had his number 44 retired in 2012.
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. He 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. Yogi Berra mentioned Biggio's height in his book You Can Observe A Lot By Watching, saying, "I always identified with short catchers--they don't have to stand up as far".
The Astros acquired first baseman Jeff Bagwell prior to the start of the 1991 season, who, like Biggio, spent his entire major league career with Houston. A power hitter with higher-than-normal on-base skills, Bagwell played 15 seasons, thus completely overlapping his career with Biggio's and wound up Houston's career leader in home runs. The pair came to be known as the "Killer B's", synonymous with the Astros throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s. A prodigious offensive and defensive unit, during their 10 peak seasons from 1994-2003, they appeared in nine All-Star Games, won five Gold Gloves, ranked in the top five of the Most Valuable Player Award voting five times and averaged 226 runs scored. They totaled 689 home runs, 2,485 RBI and 3,083 runs scored while the Astros advanced to the postseason six times. Other players that the Astros later acquired whose names started with the letter B also were included in this distinction, including Derek Bell, Sean Berry, Lance Berkman, and Carlos Beltrán.
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 the year before. 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 53. His statistics reflect this, having consistently good marks in hitting, on-base percentage, hit-by-pitch, runs, stolen bases, and doubles throughout his career. Biggio was also known for intentionally keeping his batting helmet dirty.
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; a highlight occurred on April 8, when he hit for the cycle for the only time in his career.
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 Beltrán, who was acquired in a trade to help bolster the Astros' struggling offense.
In February, 2005, Biggio and Bagwell were jointly inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Biggio resumed playing at second base after Kent left for the Dodgers and set a new career-high with 26 home runs. He also reached 1,000 RBI, becoming the second Astro to do so, following Bagwell.
After having played 4,714 games and their entire major league careers together in Houston, Biggio and Bagwell appeared in their first World Series in 2005 against the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox swept the Astros to secure the championship with the lowest run-scoring differential in World Series history. Both Biggio and Bagwell received Baseball America's Lifetime Achievement Award after the 2005 season.
On May 23, 2006, Biggio became the 23rd player in MLB history to reach 10,000 at-bats.
On June 28, 2007, Biggio became the 27th player in the history of Major League Baseball to join the 3,000 hit club, with a single against Colorado Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook. Though Biggio was tagged out on the play attempting to stretch it into a double, drawing the throw allowed 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. It was Biggio's third hit of the game, and he went on to accumulate two more later in the game, one in the ninth inning and one in the eleventh inning. Biggio's 3,000th hit came on the same day that Frank Thomas hit his milestone 500th career home run, both marks which are considered to guarantee one's induction into the Hall of Fame.
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 fifth place on the all-time list. Biggio also holds the record for the most doubles by a right-handed hitter. He is the only player in the history of baseball with 3,000 hits, 600 doubles, 400 stolen bases, and 250 home runs. He ranks 20th on the all-time hits list, though of those 20 players he ranks 19th in career batting 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. The Astros won the game 3-0.
Biggio finished his career with 3,060 career hits, 668 doubles, 291 home runs, 1,175 RBI, 414 stolen bases, and a .281 batting average.
Biggio has been a special assistant to the general manager since 2008. In this role, he works in several areas, including with the baseball operations staff in its major and minor league player development programs with special emphasis on instruction, the amateur draft and scouting, and major and minor league talent evaluation. Biggio was involved in the selection of new Astros Manager Bo Porter in 2012. Additionally, Biggio participates in the club's community development program.
Over his career, Biggio gained a reputation for being hit by pitches; some observers criticized him due to the fact that many of the pitches hit him on his sizable elbow pad. 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 by a pitch.
In his final season, however, Biggio was only hit three times. He was hit fewer times total between 2006 and 2007 (nine 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, 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. 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 ninth player in Astros history to have his number retired.
Biggio first appeared on the writers' ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013, the earliest possible year of consideration. He led all Hall of Fame vote-getters by being named on 68.2% of ballots cast. However, this was 39 votes shy of reaching the 75% threshold required by the BBWAA for induction. The following year he once again failed to garner enough votes to be inducted, finishing two votes shy with a voting percentage of 74.8%. This ties him with Nellie Fox (1985) and Pie Traynor (1947) for smallest margin not to get into the Hall.
Biggio has received awards from various organizations, including the Hutch Award (2005) and being named one of Sporting News' Good Guys (2004). The Hutch Award is given to a player that shows competitiveness and never gives up. Part of the reason Biggio was given the award was for his multiple position changes, but also because of his work in the community and inspiring other teammates to participate as well. He also received the Roberto Clemente Award in 2007. The Roberto Clemente Award "recognizes the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team".
Biggio has been a supporter and lead spokesperson for the Sunshine Kids Foundation for over a decade and almost the entirety of his playing career. The organization supports children fighting cancer with exciting activities for themselves and their families. Biggio helps the organization by raising awareness of the organization by wearing a small yellow sun on his cap for interviews, batting practice, and spring training games and by holding a celebrity golf tournament in Houston each spring. Biggio hosts an annual party at Minute Maid Park for about 100 Sunshine Kids to play baseball with Biggio and some of his teammates.
With the 2006 annual golf tournament, Biggio has raised over $2 million for the organization. During 2007 spring training, MLB informed Biggio that he would no longer be allowed to wear the small yellow sun on his cap during interviews, photo shoots, or spring training. Biggio had worn the Sunshine Kids pin for over a decade. This edict was big news in Houston, and Houstonians, long known for their charitable nature and unconditional love of Biggio, reacted very negatively to MLB. After the public uproar, MLB relented and Biggio was allowed to wear the Sunshine Kids pin as he had done since becoming a spokesperson.
Biggio and his wife, the former Patty Egan, have three children: Conor, Cavan, and Quinn. They live in Houston. For several years, Biggio was the head varsity baseball coach at St. Thomas High School. Biggio coached St. Thomas to back-to-back Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) Class 5A state baseball titles in 2010 and 2011.
Both of Biggio's sons played for the St. Thomas baseball team. Cavan hit a home run in the team's 2011 championship game, while older brother Conor provided the winning offense in St. Thomas' semi-final victory. In Summer 2012, Conor played left field for the North Adams SteepleCats of the New England Collegiate Baseball League; in Summer 2013, he played outfield and second base for the North Shore Navigators of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. When asked by the Houston Chronicle about the success, the elder Biggio replied
I don't get too caught up in that...it's not about me it's about these kids, and win or lose we're trying to turn these kids into men. That's the thing that's most important to me.
Many baseball players, such as Whitey Ford, Ken Griffey Jr., Steve Carlton, and Barry Bonds, bat and throw left-handed while writing right-handed. Biggio is one of the rare examples of a baseball player, like Brooks Robinson and Dale Murphy, who bats and throws right-handed but writes left-handed.
|Baseball America Lifetime Achievement Award||2005|||
|National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum inductee||2015|||
|Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame inductee||2002|
|Texas Baseball Hall of Fame inductee||2005|
|Texas Sports Hall of Fame inductee||2005|||
|Name of award||Times||Dates||Ref|
|Baseball America National League All-Star at second base||2||1994, 1998|
|Branch Rickey Award||1||1997|
|Heart & Hustle Award||2||2007, 2008|
|Houston Astros Most Valuable Player||1||1998|
|Major League Baseball All-Star|
|at second base||6||1992, 1994-1998|
|Rawlings Gold Glove Award at second base||4||1994-1997|
|Roberto Clemente Award||1||2007|
|Silver Slugger Award|
|at second base||4||1994, 1995, 1997, 1998|
Notes: Per Baseball-Reference.com. +- led Major Leagues.
|Doubles leader||3||1994, 1998+, 1999+|
|Games played leader||3||1992, 1996, 1997|
|Hit by pitch leader||5||1995+-1997+, 2001+, 2003+|
|Plate appearance leader||5||1992, 1995+, 1997-1999+|
|Runs scored leader||2||1995+, 1997+|
|Stolen base leader||1||1994|
|Times on base leader||1||1997|