HOUSTON (CBS-Houston) – Might seem a little biased here. But having had the pleasure of covering former Astro, Craig Biggio, when the Astros played in the Astrodome and at Minute Maid Park, I am well within the boundaries of being fair.
We, who covered the Astros in the ‘90’s, along with the nation’s baseball fans, witnessed the move of young Craig Biggio from Seton Hall college catcher to professional catcher with the Astros for the first four seasons of his career. He was then moved from catcher to second baseman in 1992 after the Astros had been without one of the most gritty and well-liked second baseman in Astro’s lore, Billy Doran.
Doran, who had been a fixture at second base since 1982, was traded to Cincinnati late in 1990. The Astros, once again, needed to duplicate that success by placing another fixture and crowd favorite at second base which is exactly what Billy Doran was.
Those infields were loaded with so many talented players over the years that included the likes of first baseman Glenn Davis, eventually Jeff Bagwell, late great third baseman, Ken Caminiti, shortstops Rafael Ramirez, Eric Yelding, Andujar Cedeno, and colorful second baseman, Casey Candaele. Remember third baseman, Billy Hatcher? Those are just a few of the many talented players Biggio drove home with hit, after hit, after hit, night after night.
Biggio not only played catcher and second base, he was also asked to play in the outfield a couple of seasons as slick fielding Jeff Kent was signed by the Astros in 2002, but granted free agency in 2004 and signed by the Dodgers.
Biggio’s speed was another welcomed addition that led to the position change and what also helped to prolong his career. There was talk of sustaining injury at the catcher position which could possibly shorten his career.
But, regardless of the talents many saw in Biggio, there was much uncertainty. The impending transition from catcher to second base was discussed over and over by many especially in the media. Biggio wasn’t given much of a chance to make the successful switch.
However, that was the beginning of a great career, aided by former Astro’s bench coach Matt Galante, for a player who should have easily been inducted on Wednesday into Baseball’s Hall of Fame.
While it is easy to understand why Tom Glavine, Gregg Maddux, and Frank Thomas were elected, it’s equally disturbing that Biggio missed induction by two votes.
DID YOU GUYS KEEP YOUR EYES ON BIGGIO?
Missing the Hall of Fame by two votes says there were at least two HOF voters who didn’t keep their eyes on Biggio. He had 427 votes. He was fourth in voting and needed two more for induction. The Hall of Fame was shut out last year due to what writers considered steroid-tainted stars in Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa.
However, 2014 is a new year! The question is how do you miss 3060 hits over a 20-year career? There are only 28 players in the history of Major League Baseball who are members of the 3000 hit club. Those are eye-popping numbers with a dash of longevity. Only four of those members are lacking induction and they are Pete Rose, Rafael Palmeiro, Derek Jeter who’s still active with the New York Yankees, and Biggio. Rose and Palmeiro are still waiting for reasons that are well-chronicled.
As for Biggio, he became the all-time leader at his position in games played, 2850, at bats, 10,876, and doubles with 668. He ranks 5th in two-baggers for his career behind Tris Speaker, Pete Rose, Stan Musial, and Ty Cobb.
Biggio won the Silver Slugger Award during his second season in the league. Benito Santiago, former San Francisco Giants catcher, won it the next two. Remember him? Darren Daulton of the Phillies won it in ’92 followed by Mike Piazza of the Dodgers, who’s still waiting for induction and who owned it for the next ten. But, by that time Biggio had moved to second base and had been named to seven All-Star teams, five consecutive.
The only accomplishment left for Biggio is to enter the Hall of Fame says former Astros centerfielder and teammate, Kevin Bass.
“His numbers tell it all,” says another one of the favorite and most classy players in Astro’s history, Kevin Bass. “The writers know that he’s deserving of the Hall of Fame. I saw ‘Bidge’ break into the league and he got better and better. He played at a high level for a long time, and for that, that’s what in my estimation makes him a Hall of Famer.”
Bass continued. “Writers and fans don’t understand how special and difficult that is to do. I think his induction is being held up because of the PED stigma that dogs that era.”
Bass is correct. He should know and so do the voters. But, that’s not a good enough reason to preclude Biggio from entering the Hall of Fame.
It is our hope that we’re not having this same discussion next year as the voters will be compelled to do the right thing.