Biggio bat presented to Hall of Fame
Friends, family, fans gather to pay tribute to Astros great
HOUSTON -- Craig Biggio already experienced the peak of his legendary career on June 28, when he slapped a 2-0 pitch from Colorado's Aaron Cook into center field for his 3,000th career hit in front of a deafening sold-out crowd at Minute Maid Park.
But when he has time to reflect, Sunday might come a close second.
Before Sunday's game, Biggio and the Astros took part in an official day of celebration for the milestone, presenting the National Baseball Hall of Fame with the bat, jersey, batting gloves and cap used by Biggio on that historic night. The Hall of Fame only requested the bat, but Biggio, in typical charitable fashion, donated them all.
Brad Horn, director of communications for the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., attended the presentation and accepted the items on the organization's behalf.
"We put in a request [that] we'd like to have something," Horn said. "We particularly wanted the bat. Craig has been particularly generous with us throughout his career. He's given us the spikes he wore in the World Series, the elbow guard when he set the modern record [for being hit by pitches], [and] the jersey from when the Astros commemorated the Columbia Space Shuttle.
"The bat was something of Craig's we did not have. On a number of levels, the bat signifies the best memory of the 3,000th hit. It was his decision to donate the jersey and gloves. It just helps us tell the story."
Astros radio broadcaster Milo Hamilton directed the ceremony and had words for Horn upon his receiving of the artifacts.
"We trust that you and our friends at the Hall will take good care of these items as you prepare for that display case that will go up in five years to honor our very own Hall of Famer," Hamilton said.
The ceremony lasted approximately 45 minutes, with numerous Astros and Biggio representatives on hand to take part and testify about the greatness of Biggio's accomplishment and his career.
The baseball notables taking part in the presentation included Horn, Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr., Astros president of baseball operations Tal Smith, Astros general manager Tim Purpura, Biggio's agent Barry Axelrod, Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and former teammate Jeff Bagwell.
Nancy Caminiti, wife of the late former Astro Ken Caminiti and a close friend of the Biggio family, also attended along with the couple's three daughters.
After the participants were introduced, Biggio was driven onto the field through the right-field gate with his wife, Patty, as well as his daughter Quinn and sons Conor and Cavan. All were greeted with a rousing standing ovation and loud chants of 'B-G-O' from the standing room-only crowd at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros welcomed Biggio with an eight-minute tribute video that featured highlights of Biggio's Houston career along with a montage of all 27 members of the exclusive 3,000 hit club, with words of congratulations from Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, George Brett, Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr.
Following that, Bagwell, Conor Biggio, Hamilton, Sunshine Kids member Frankie Velazquez, McLane, and Biggio all gave brief speeches to honor the occasion.
"As I watched that video, it brought back tremendous memories of that night," Bagwell said. "Truly, it was one of the most special days in which I've been associated with the game of baseball. I was really moved.
"The thing that's important is that there's only one Astro [with 3,000 hits]. To spend his entire career with one organization, to get to 3,028 with one team, that is great. I'm very privileged to have had the opportunity to play with [Biggio] for 15 years."
Perhaps the most touching tribute came from Biggio's 14-year-old son, Conor.
"My father is simply amazing," he said. "He may not have been there at every Little League game or every birthday, but we always knew in his heart he was there. He taught us respect, hard work, integrity, loyalty and courage. He taught us about charity and kindness to the Sunshine Kids.
"Most of us, he taught us all about love. It's in how he loves the city of Houston and how he loves the game of baseball. We see it in his eyes, and we feel it in our hearts. I love you, and you're my best friend. Dad, I am so proud of you."
Conor embraced his father for several moments following his emotional speech.
In addition to the kind words honoring his on-field greatness, Biggio has always been known for his dedication to the community, even when away from the clubhouse. On that front, Sunday was no exception, with Sunshine Kids executive director G.W. Bailey and long-time member Velazquez on the field to give Biggio specific praise for his dedication to the group.
"You have shown me a love for baseball and a love for life," Velazquez said to Biggio. "I hope there will be others that follow in your footsteps and give what you have given to me. You are, without a doubt, the heart and soul of the Houston Astros."
After Velazquez spoke, he and Bailey presented Biggio with a card of congratulations signed by all of the kids from the Sunshine Kids House in Houston.
"It's no secret that Craig Biggio has played the game right," Hamilton said. "He hustles and he grinds, always leaving it all out on the field. This passion and drive follows Craig outside the lines of the diamond, as he spends countless hours with his charitable work. Where Craig really shines in the community is his work with the Sunshine Kids organization."
McLane followed Hamilton, presenting Biggio with a crystal 3,000th-hit bat and a commemorative 3,000 sign on the left-center field brick facade at Minute Maid Park. From there, it was finally time for Biggio to come to the podium.
"I thought this was going to be easy, but I don't think so," Biggio said in addressing the crowd. "It's a very overwhelming experience for a player. I just love to play the game. To have this many people come out and honor you is one of the ultimate compliments you can have. Getting your respect is the most important thing to any player. It's beyond words."
Biggio never was the most physically talented or imposing player, but he made up for that with incredible drive and passion. On a day honoring his incredible career, that was the message he chose to send to his fans.
"I know all the kids in Little League fields across the world have big dreams," Biggio said. "You should go for it. I am a person that can vouch for that. I wasn't the biggest kid, and I wasn't the strongest kid. But if you've got a big heart and a big dream, you've got to go for it. Don't let anyone crush your dreams at all. If you want to be a big-league baseball player, go for it."
Biggio's daughter, Quinn, delivered the game's ceremonial first pitch to Biggio, and Biggio concluded the presentation by taking a lap around Minute Maid Park just minutes before the start of Sunday's series finale between the Astros and Brewers.
Biggio played second base and led off in Sunday's game.
Ben DuBose is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.