Houston knows Biggio deserves HoF nod

Houston knows Biggio deserves HoF nod
January 8, 2013, 6:30 pm
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Biggio: HoF consideration 'very humbling'

Is Craig Biggio worthy of induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame?

The question itself is ludicrous for any Houstonian because, while the Astros have never won a World Series, there have been plenty of great players don the star cap through the years. From Joe Morgan, Cesar Cedeno and J.R. Richard, to Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman, Astros fans have truly been blessed. But even with this history of Major League Baseball in Houston, Craig Biggio is the greatest Astro.

Biggio is the one fathers pointed out to their sons, wanting them to play like he does. He is the one who never left a game with a clean uniform (even while playing in the dome), the one that stood in the batters box no matter how far inside pitchers threw, the one who played the game fearlessly and with an intensity unmatched in 51 seasons of Houston baseball. He is Mr. Astro. If Craig Biggio isn’t a hall of famer, then we haven’t seen one yet.

The debate amongst Astros fans started midway through Biggio’s long career in Houston, is he a hall of famer? By the time he retired at the end of the 2007 season, Houston fans had relegated this debate to a mere intellectual exercise. Of course he is. 3,060 hits (21st all time), 668 doubles (fifth all time and most by any right handed hitter), and 1,844 runs scored (15th all time). Throw in 414 stolen bases, 285 hit by pitches, 289 home runs, seven all star teams (as a catcher and 2nd baseman), five Silver Slugger and four Gold Glove awards and even the term debate seemed silly.

Houston made the playoffs just three times in the 27 years before Biggio put on an Astros uniform and never won a playoff series. Houston reached the postseason six times while Biggio was playing, including the team’s only appearance in the World Series.

Even the reasons that critics ding Biggio for are reasons Houston fans loved him. He was a grinder, an accumulator, he accumulated his totals because he was there so long. He played in every game three seasons, he missed three games or less in seven. In his first three full seasons as a catcher he averaged 143 games played. Biggio’s ability to take the field every day for as long as he did endeared him to Astros fans throughout his career.

Now that the results from the first Hall of Fame ballot Biggio is eligible for are about to be released, Astros fans are bracing for the unthinkable. That Biggio isn’t a first ballot hall of famer.

For a city that’s used to sports sucker punches (see the Luv ya Blue, Jerry Glanville and Jack Pardee Oilers, Phi Slama Jama, the ’81 and ’86 Rockets, not to mention Astros postseasons), this is another body blow.

Biggio did everything right. Astros fans never had to explain away Biggio, on the field or off. From his work with the Sunshine Kids to coaching his son’s high school baseball teams, Biggio never took a misstep. That’s what makes it so incomprehensible when what seems to be dooming Biggio’s rightful place in Cooperstown as a first ballot hall of famer is character issues. Not his character, but his fellow players during the steroid era.

Should Biggio not get elected into the Hall of Fame on Wednesday’s ballot, it’s one more slight, to Houston fans to be sure, but especially to Biggio who deserves much more than 75 percent of the vote.

Ask any Houstonian, they'll tell you.