Astros retire Biggio's number 7

August 17, 2008 4:27:18 PM PDT
Craig Biggio waved to fans and touched his heart before the Houston Astros retired his No. 7 jersey in a ceremony preceding Sunday's game against Arizona. Biggio, 42, retired in 2007 after becoming the 27th player to reach 3,000 hits. He is Houston's all-time leader in seasons played (20), at-bats (10,876), hits (3,060), extra-base hits (1,014), doubles (668) and runs (1,844).

Dressed in a blue suit, Biggio hopped out of the dugout and walked across a red carpet toward a podium set up a home plate. He was flanked on both sides by about two dozen family members and friends, including ex-teammates Jeff Bagwell, Brad Ausmus, Bill Doran and the widow of Ken Caminiti, Biggio's teammate from 1989-94 and 1999-2000.

"To have your number retired, it's one of the greatest things that could ever happen to you," Biggio said. "I knew the significance of it, so I was nervous. I haven't been this nervous in a long time."

Biggio's 668 doubles are the most by a right-handed hitter and fifth all-time, and he's the only player to reach 600 doubles, 250 home runs (291), 3,000 hits and 400 stolen bases (414). The seven-time NL All-Star also holds the major-league record for times hit by pitches (285).

"I played the game I dearly loved to play since I was a kid," Biggio told the capacity crowd at Minute Maid Park. "They gave me a number and now it's hanging from the rafters."

Biggio is the ninth Astro to have his number retired, joining Jim Umbricht (32), Don Wilson (40), Jose Cruz (25), Mike Scott (33), Nolan Ryan (34), Larry Dierker (49), Jimmy Wynn (24) and Bagwell (5).

Appropriately, Biggio's number plate hangs next to Bagwell's above right field. The two played 15 seasons together (1991-2005) and led the Astros to six playoff appearances, including their lone World Series appearance in 2005.

"We sat next to each other for so many years. We had a great ride," Biggio said to Bagwell. "Now, we stand side-by-side forever, my friend."

Bagwell, whose number was retired last August, joked that the two had gotten tired of talking about one another. "The next time it'll be 2013, when you're a first-ballot Hall of Famer," Bagwell said to more applause.

Biggio was named a special assistant to general manager Ed Wade on Feb. 11. On May 19, Biggio was named the head baseball coach at St. Thomas High School in Houston, where his 15-year-old son, Conor, attends and plays for the team.

Conor also spoke during the ceremony and said his father punished him for throwing a temper tantrum in a game.

"Coach Biggio made me run for half a practice," Conor said. "I guarantee I will never throw my helmet again."

The Astros gave Biggio a collection of framed jerseys and a red and yellow all-terrain vehicle with an infield dirt rake on the back.

Biggio then threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Ausmus, his teammate from 1997-98 and 2001-2007. Biggio gave the ball to his brother, Terry, who was serving in Iraq last year when Biggio reached 3,000 hits.

Biggio said he was content in retirement and took the family on a vacation to Italy earlier this summer.

"I have no regrets, as far as any decision-making I ever made," he said. "I've done everything this organization has ever asked me to do. And I'm proud of that."

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