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Friday, March 23, 2007
How dare Craig Biggio wear a pin!

By Paul Lukas
Special to Page 2

Is there anything sadder than a kid with cancer? How about a league that cracks down on someone who tries to help kids with cancer?

Uni Watch
That was the situation that unfolded around Craig Biggio on Thursday. For most of his 20-year career, Biggio has been involved with the Sunshine Kids, a nonprofit group that helps cancer-stricken youth. He's raised more than $1.8 million for the group through his annual golf tournament, and he's always shown his support and raised awareness by wearing a pin of the group's sun-shaped logo on his cap during pregame warm-ups and in spring training games. OK, so it looks a little weird, but big deal -- he's never done it in a regular-season game, he's never covered up the Astros logo and he's never gotten a dime for it.

And now he won't be doing it at all, because some pathetic little MLB functionary decreed Thursday that Biggio must remove the pin. You've gotta hand it to MLB: It takes a very special brand of chutzpah to tell a future Hall of Famer to stop supporting cancer patients. Forget about players on steroids -- the real problem, apparently, is kids on chemo. And that's just the beginning of MLB's cluelessness here. According to this account, "a league official, having watched the Astros-Devil Rays game on the local Houston Fox Southwest feed, sent word to Kissimmee that [Biggio] must remove [the pin]. A picture from that game was faxed to the Astros, who informed [Biggio] of the league's request." Whoa, TV and faxes -- they sure caught him red-handed! Apparently the miscreant who employed these high-tech investigative tools was unaware that Biggio had already been wearing the pin on his cap for nearly 20 years.

It might also interest the league office to learn that Biggio is hardly the first MLB figure to wear a pin on his cap. Back when Billy Martin was managing the Yankees, he wore a cross pin, a habit he continued when he moved on to the A's. Martin's protégé Bucky Dent did the same thing when he managed the Yankees, and has also worn it during his coaching stints with the Rangers, Cardinals and Reds.

Stick pins have also shown up in other spots on MLB uniforms. On Opening Day last year, Manny Ramirez wore a little pin right between the "Red" and "Sox" on his jersey, which upon closer inspection turned out to be a little angel swinging a bat. And during Game 3 of the 1974 World Series, Reggie Jackson wore an A's World Series press pin on his waistband (additional info on that is available here).

Nobody from MLB faxed any cease-and-desist letters to Martin, Dent, Ramirez or Jackson -- only Biggio. Was the MLB brain trust worried that he was defiling those new batting practice caps that everyone hates? Was it worried that he was cheapening the value of a crucial spring training game? Was it worried that he was sullying the sanctity of the sport? Remember, this is the same league that was going to sell Spider-Man ads on the bases until public outcry led it to beat a hasty retreat. You can expect plenty of outcry on this one too -- don't be surprised to see that pin back on Biggio's cap by next week.

Paul Lukas can only imagine what the current MLB crew would have thought of Stargell stars. His Uni Watch blog, which is updated daily, is here, his answers to Frequently Asked Questions are here, and archives of his columns are available here, here, and here. Got feedback for him, or want to be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted? Contact him here.