Dec 13, 2010

Former Italian / American Player of the Day: Long Island's Craig Biggio (1988-2007)

Craig Alan Biggio was born on December 14, 1965 in Smithtown, New York. Biggio was a star athlete at Kings Park high school in Long Islands Suffolk County. There he won the Hansen Award which is given to the top football player in Suffolk County. He received a bunch of football offers but chose to play baseball at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

There he was a team mate of future Met Mo Vaughn & John Valentin. He earned All American Honors & was selected first round (22nd pick overall) by the Houston Astros in 1987.

Biggio would debut in 1988 for 50 games & by the following season would be an Astro regular for twenty seasons.

He began his career as a catcher, then played two seasons as a centerfielder before switching to a full time second baseman in 1992 winning four Gold Gloves at the position. He is the first player to make the All Star team as a catcher then as second baseman.

Biggio would play in seven All Star Games, lead the league in plate appearances five times, games three times, doubles three times, runs scored twice, stolen bases once & hit by pitches five times. He broke Don Baylors record of hit by pitches in 2005 finishing his career with 285. In all those times getting plunked he never charged the mound. Biggio is one of three players all time with more than 2,500 hits, 500 doubles, 400 stolen bases and more than 250 home runs. In 1998 he became the first player since Tris Speaker to hit 50 doubles & steal 50 bases. Biggio was a long time lead off man, one of the best all time & is the NL leader in lead off HRs.

During the 2007 season the Astros installed a digital counter scoreboeard in left field keeping track of Biggio’s hits, counting down to 3000.

On June 28, 2007, he became the 27th player in MLB history to join the 3000 hit club. The hit came against Aaron Cook & the Colorado Rockies, even though he was tagged out trying to stretch a single to a double. The game was stopped while Biggio shared the moment with his wife, children & Longtime friend Jeff Bagwell who emerged from the Astros clubhouse to congratulate him.

Post Season: Biggio played in six different post seasons, playing in two NLCS & one World Series losing to the White Sox in 2004. In the 2004 NLDS against Atlanta he hit .400 with a HR in the five run 2nd inning of Game #4. In 2005 he rolled through the post season batting .316 in the NLDS with four doubles. In the NLCS he was 8-24 batting .333 with three RBIs. In the World Series he batted only .222 driving in a run in Game #3 of the Series sweep.

Although he never led the league in any major category he was among the top many times, although he played in a smaller media market in Houston & was over shadowed by many other star players with bigger number, he is a shoe in for the Hall of Fame. Biggio finished his career with 3060 hits (20th all time) 668 doubles (5th all time) 55 triples 291 HRs (135th all time) 1175 RBIs 414 (155th all time) stolen bases (62nd all time) 1844 runs scored (13th all time) 1160 walks (62nd all time) a .281 batting average & a .363 on base % in 2850 games played (15th all time).

Biggio had his number 7 retired by the Houston Astros, and has won numerous awards through the years for his charity works. At Shea Stadium the Mets also honored the Long Island native in his last series against the Mets. He is currently the head varsity baseball coach for St. Thomas High School in Houston, Texas.

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