Seeing the Houston Astros finally win a World Series championship is the ultimate bucket list item, but watching life-time Astro Craig Biggio inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is at least one tick off the list for most fans.
Fans knew this time was coming from the day Biggio retired. It was just a matter of when. “When” happened on Sunday and it was a magical day for a very humble and deserving player.
Watching clips of Biggio baby faced and hustling was a reminder of the great days when he was leading by example and showing other players that playing a game for a living was a privilege not given to all mortals. His friend and former teammate, Detroit manager Brad Ausmus did a solid job of describing his all out hustle on every grounder to the mound and what a great athlete he was to shift from All Star catcher to All Star second baseman and solid outfielder. It was even fun to hear Ausmus chide Biggio for trying to impossibly stretch his 3000th hit into a signature double. Biggio was great, but yes he had his flaws.
One of the things that always tied Craig Biggio closely to the fans was the fact that he was not a JJ Watt, 6’8″ 280 pound super human. Sure, the fans love JJ, but more like a Norse god, not like the normal everyman that Bidge represented. Biggio was a great athlete, but he looked like the guy next door, the guy who runs the local hardware store, the guy who used to deliver your papers when he was a kid (which he did).
Craig Biggio gave a Hall of Fame acceptance speech that was a grand slam. This was not the baseball cliche riddled interview blurbs he would give after games during his career. This was heartfelt and warm and reaching and a piece of his soul. His most emotional moment was talking about his late parents and what they meant to him and what they did for him and how much he missed them this day. One of the most poignant moments though, was seeing the tears welling up in tough Matt Galante‘s eyes as Biggio singled him out for making him the second baseman who earned the Hall of Fame.
There were many wonderful moments of thanks from his beginnings of baseball all the way through to his current days of coaching the St. Thomas High School baseball team. He revealed that the impetus for his dedication to the Sunshine Kids was seeing what leukemia did to a family he threw newspapers to back on Long Island. His tributes to his two sons and daughter were touching and his tribute to his wife Patty was the type of moment that makes all husbands think hard about what their wives mean to them. For those who keep wondering whether Craig will one day become the Astros’ manager, this portion of the speech and the many sacrifices that Patty made to keep the family afloat during Craig’s eight months of absences each season, may have answered that question.
Craig Biggio thanked the fans of Houston. He thanked baseball itself for what it did for him. All we can say is the thanks are all ours.