Biggio ‘kind of speechless’ after Hall of Fame tour
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Craig Biggio was ”kind of speechless” after completing his pre-induction tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
”This is crazy!” Biggio said Friday, sitting in the Plaque Gallery of the hall. ”I’m kind of speechless. It’s an overwhelming feeling, incredible feeling. I don’t know what to say right now.”
That’s understandable, given it’s been less than a month since he was elected to the Hall of Fame. Perhaps it all hasn’t quite sunk in yet.
Biggio was elected Jan. 6, joining Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, who made the 75 percent threshold by big margins on their first tries to become the first trio of pitchers voted in together by baseball writers.
Biggio received 82.7 percent of the votes, making it on his third attempt after falling two votes shy last year. The wait hardly mattered.
”We’re in,” said Biggio, glancing at his smiling wife Patty. ”We’re honored. Last year, hey, we came really close. Hopefully, this year was going to be the year and then it was. I never looked at it as waiting three years. We’re just honored and humbled that we’re in.”
The seven-time All-Star, who played catcher, second base and the outfield, retired in 2007 with 3,060 hits, and his 668 doubles are the major league high for a right-handed batter. He also was hit by pitches 285 times, second all-time by just two to Hughie Jennings. He finished his career with 291 homers, 1,175 RBIs, 1,161 walks, 414 stolen bases and 1,844 runs. Biggio also is the only player in major league history with 600 doubles, 250 homers, 3,000 hits and 400 steals.
He takes pride in playing his entire career with one organization — the Houston Astros. He competed longer than any other player in franchise history, donning the uniform for 20 seasons. He’ll be the first player in franchise history to be inducted when he formally enters the Hall of Fame on July 26.
”It means a lot to me,” he said of the Astros cap on his plaque. ”I’m wearing it for every guy in the Astros organization. This is for all of us.”
A native of Kings Park on New York’s Long Island, Biggio said he visited the Hall of Fame as a kid with his family but didn’t remember much. Rest assured he won’t forget this trip.
Downstairs where the Hall of Fame stores thousands of artifacts that aren’t on display, he picked up a bat Babe Ruth used in his heyday in the 1920s, marveling, ”I’ve got to pick that thing up again.”
After gazing at a box of balls signed by former New York Yankees slugger Mickey Mantle, he said joking, ”Can you take this out to my car?”
”It’s like stepping back in the past,” Biggio said. ”I just wanted to take it all in and appreciate everything.”
Biggio is one of just 11 players in big-league history with at least 3,000 career hits and 1,800 career runs scored. Eight of the other 10 are in the Hall of Fame: Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Tris Speaker, Carl Yastrzemski, Eddie Collins, Willie Mays and Rickey Henderson. The other two on that list are recently retired Yankees star Derek Jeter, who’s not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame, and all-time hits leader Pete Rose, who’s serving a lifetime ban from baseball.
When he entered the Plaque Gallery at tour’s end, Biggio made sure to look at plaques of several of his heroes — from Yogi Berra, who scouted Biggio when he starred at Seton Hall in New Jersey, to fellow Long Islander Yastrzemski, to Jennings, and the late Cubs great Ernie Banks, who died last week.
”I was just a little kid from Long Island,” Biggio said. ”Now, I’m sitting in a chair that says Hall of Fame. Amazing.”