Longtime Astro Biggio says he'll retire with 'no regrets'
HOUSTON -- Craig Biggio feels he has nothing left to prove on a baseball field.
After a 20-year career in which he stayed with one franchise, played multiple positions at an All-Star level and joined the elite 3,000 hit club, the Houston Astros infielder said Tuesday he will retire at the end of this season.
"There are a lot of guys that have the game taken away from them by injury," he said. "For me to be able to walk away now, on top, on my own accord, I'm very happy with that. I'm in a good place. I think I've done everything that I was supposed to do on a baseball field. I have nothing to be disappointed about."
During a news conference in which he reminisced about his accomplished career, Biggio said his favorite baseball memory will always be from this June 28.
"The 3,000th-hit night was the best. I'll never forget that," he said. "I just can't believe it's over. It's gone by fast. I have no regrets. I played the game the right way."
Only seven major league players have more than 3,000 hits and 400 stolen bases. Five are enshrined in Cooperstown.
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Biggio is batting .250 with 24 doubles, six homers and 35 RBIs this season. He has 3,016 hits, four shy of tying Rafael Palmeiro for 23rd place. He has been selected to the All-Star Game seven times and has four Gold Glove awards.
A teary-eyed Biggio, the longest-tenured player in Astros history, said he will miss putting on his uniform every day and also will miss the fans.
"I just didn't want families bringing their kids to the game and saying, 'He's just not the same guy we used to watch or the guy we really love and respect.' I didn't want that. I didn't want to be a player that played the game too long," he said.
Along with teammate and friend Jeff Bagwell, who retired before the start of this season, Biggio led the Astros to four division titles, the team's first NL pennant and trip to the World Series in 2005.
"He's done all of the things that he possibly could do in his career," Bagwell told KRIV-TV in Houston. "All of those things that he's done in his career is something he can hang on his mantle and be very, very proud of, especially in five years when he walks into the Hall of Fame."
Biggio should be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, Bagwell told the station. "I know so and if anybody doesn't believe that then they're crazy," he said.
Moises Alou played three seasons with Biggio, in 1998 and 2000-2001.
"It doesn't surprise me because I know how hard he plays, how sore his body must be," said Alou, now with the New York Mets. "It was a great experience playing with him, I'm very happy to have an opportunity to play with him."
Biggio's 3,000th hit came one day shy of the 19th anniversary of his first career hit, a single off Orel Hershiser on June 29, 1988.
Biggio is the only player in major league history with 600 doubles, 250 homers, 3,000 hits and 400 steals. Biggio is a career .282 hitter. He has already been inducted into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
A seven-time All-Star, Biggio starred at Seton Hall and was the 22nd player selected in the 1987 amateur draft. He caught his first four seasons.
He made his first All-Star Game in 1991, but the Astros moved him to second base in 1992, a position he had never played. But he made the All-Star team again, ranking among the NL's top 10 in runs, walks and stolen bases.
After the Astros acquired Jeff Kent in 2002, Biggio moved to the outfield. When Kent left in 2004, Biggio returned to second.
"Moving to different positions definitely extended my survival rate," Biggio said.
Biggio considered leaving Houston when he became a free agent in 1995 and had an offer from Colorado. Astros owner Drayton McLane said he called Biggio every day for three weeks to persuade him to stay.
McLane said Biggio and Bagwell were the heartbeat of the Astros franchise. He commended Biggio for his intensity, his thrill to win and his desire to reach out to the fans.
"Craig, thanks for the thousands and thousands of memories," he said. "We'll be a better franchise because of the years that you were here."
The others in the 3,000 hit club who played for one team: Stan Musial of the Cardinals (3,630), Carl Yastrzemski of the Red Sox (3,419), Cal Ripken of the Orioles (3,184), George Brett of the Royals (3,154), Robin Yount of the Brewers (3,142). Tony Gwynn of the Padres (3,141), Al Kaline of the Tigers (3,007) and Roberto Clemente of the Pirates (3,000).
Astros general manager Tim Purpura said Biggio and Bagwell set high standards for the franchise.
"Craig and Jeff have given us this legacy. And now we have to pass it on to the next generation of Astros," he said.
Biggio, his wife, Patty, and their three children live in Houston. He thanked his family at the news conference. His two sons sat next to him while his wife was in the audience.
"I can't justify being out of their lives anymore. I want to be home," he said.
Biggio said he will be a part of the Astros organization but his first priority will be to spend time with his family and help coach his two sons in baseball.
During his two decades with the Astros, Biggio has become known in the city as much for his charitable work as for his play. He has been the national spokesman and fundraiser for the Sunshine Kids Foundation, which helps children with cancer, for more than a decade.
Biggio said he will miss Opening Day of the season, being on the field with his teammates as well as hearing fans chant "B-I-G-G-I-O," a familiar refrain around Minute Maid Park.
"A final message to my fans? Thank you. Thank you for opening up your living rooms and letting me in your lives for 20 years, and I love you guys."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.