A look back at four years ago today: Biggio’s 3,000th.

A four-year anniversary of any kind usually comes and goes without a lot of attention, but given the state of the Astros
these days, I thought it might be nice to shift the focus, briefly, back to June 28, 2007.

That was the day Craig Biggio logged five hits — his 2,998th, 2,999th, 3,000th, 3,001st and 3,002nd — in an extra-inning win over the Colorado Rockies, making Houston history in front of the hometown fans.

The season, at that point, was dreadful. The Astros were 13 games under .500 at 33-46 (although they were an even 18-18 at home). But on this night, the record didn’t matter. Minute Maid Park was jam-packed and loud. And no one went home disappointed.

I thought maybe I’d write about some of the memories I have from that night, and honestly, here’s what I remember about it: the Astros were coming off a road trip, June 28 was the first game of a long homestand, and I thought I had at least one more day before 3,000 would happen. Most of the articles for MLB.com were written ahead of time, ready for posting as soon as he got the Big Hit. But there was still a little extra background work I needed to do for one story — the main story — and I figured I’d spend the majority of the June 28 game finishing that up.

Then Biggio singled in his second at-bat. That made me a little uncomfortable. Then he got a hit in his third at-bat, and I went into a full, all-out panic. Looking back, I don’t remember which of the news items I had not yet completed, but whatever it was, it clearly was important enough to put me in a frenzy and force me to type, furiously, non-stop, for the next several innings. By the time I was almost (but not quite) caught up, Biggio was coming to bat for the fourth time.

We all know what happened next. He got another hit — the big hit. The 3,000th hit. I needed to file a story immediately,
while keeping one eye on the field for anything notable that happened in the moments following. Maybe that’s why today, the images are little more than lightning-quick flashes in my mind. Biggio’s kids ran onto the field. Then his wife was there, too, crying. Then Jeff Bagwell was standing there, next to Biggio, looking equal parts sheepish and horrified.

I don’t remember what happened after that, or how long play stopped. I have no recollection of the game going into extra innings. I do remember Carlos Lee winning it with a home run, but I didn’t remember that it was a grand slam.

(I do, however, recall emailing my boss two days later and saying “I need the entire Phillies series off. I’m getting into bed and sleeping for three days.” And I pretty much did).

Just sifting through those old articles brought back a little of the adrenaline rush all of the writers undoubtedly went through that night as we all tried to capture the moment in perfect fashion. I did find one item, however, that I think would be appropriate to reprint.

When the dust had settled that night and the clubhouse had mostly cleared out, Biggio and I sat down and he dictated a letter to the fans that we made into a blog, and we posted it on Astros.com. He spoke and I recorded, and later, transcribed. It was a sweet gesture and worth revisiting. Here it is:

________________

Now that that the big night is over and we’ve all had a chance to reflect on the excitement that we all felt when hit No. 3,000 was finally in the books, I want to take a moment to thank you, the fans, and tell you what a thrill it was to  celebrate this milestone with so many people who have supported the Astros over the years.

If you were a fan here at Minute Maid Park, if you were a player in either dugout and obviously if you had my name and number on the back of your jersey, it was a very special night. It was one of those nights in baseball that doesn’t come around very often. For it to happen the way that it did, here at home, it really is beyond words. It’s indescribable, the emotions the went through me. I just have a total appreciation for the way the fans feel about the way that I go about my business.

I was born and raised in the east, but the city of Houston has become home to me and my family. To be able to play my entire career with one team is a blessing for all of us — for me, my wife, Patty and our children, Conor, Cavan, and Quinn. Life for a baseball player can be very difficult for a player and his family, but for us, to be honest, it’s been very, very easy.

We’ve been in one city, and when you’re in one city, you don’t have to keep picking your kids up, moving them around, worry about taking the kids out of school early, worry about summer vacations while concentrating on what’s going on with your season. I was very lucky. Part of playing in one city is not having to uproot your family. I’m very, very lucky for that.

I remember playing in the Astrodome in front of tiny crowds in the early days, and now, we draw close to three million fans every year. Jeff Bagwell and I can remember those old days and we’re very proud of what this organization has become. Our fans expect us to win. We expect to win. Not getting to the postseason is not an option. This is the reality of what we do.

We have taken our sports fans from loving the game of baseball to absolutely going crazy about it now. They follow us the way they do an east coast team. Baggy and I are proud of that.

It hasn’t always been like this, and there were times that I deserved to get booed and deserved to take the criticism that I’ve taken. But I think as a person and as a man, you stand up when things aren’t going well and you say, I just wasn’t good. I think the fans have respected that and appreciated the fact that when you stink you say you stink and you don’t sugarcoat it. Over a 20-year period we had some good times and some bad times, but in general, we haven’t had a lot to be upset about.

The night I reached my 3,000th hit, so many people who are important to me were there to see it. My family, Baggy, Nolan Ryan, the organization and the fans made that night so special. That night, I was a fan. Today, I’m a fan. It was unbelievable. From the standing ovations every single time up to the standing ovation when it happened.

It was important to me to bring Baggy out on the field. I was so proud of that, I was so happy for him to be out there one more time, because he wasn’t able to end his career the way he wanted. Hopefully, I can write my own story and leave when I want to leave, but he didn’t have that choice. So for me, that night, I wanted to really make my family No. 1 and he was No. 2.

I wanted him to be out there between the lines with me one more time, to enjoy it and for the fans to say hey, Baggy, we love you and thank you for everything you’ve done for the city. That night was just a magical moment.

To you, the fans, I just want to say thank you. I love you guys. Thank you for opening up your living rooms, your TVs, your hearts to my family and to me. As a player, it doesn’t happen like this very often. For it to happen, I just want to thank you for it and I love you guys for it. Thanks.

Craig Biggio

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8 Comments

I was in section 318 row 2 and it was amazing!! I was with 5 people and I was the only one who thought Biggio could do it that night! I remember trying to make a call right after it happened and my call could not go though with all the cell phone activity going on. It was one of the best nights of my life. I will be there in Cooperstown with Biggio gets into the hall!

Today was a History day for the Houston(Astros), and I can’t believe I couldn’t make it, that’s sucks . What did I miss anyone was there ?

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Great memories and a great letter to the fans. One comment though: I read elsewhere that Biggio didn’t get a hit in his first AB, that it was the only AB where he didn’t get on base. Not sure which is correct.

You are right!!! See, I told you the whole night was a blur :) Thanks, updated the blog.

I was blessed to be apart of two of the greatest moments in Astros history, the 18 inning playoff game and Biggio’s 3000th hit. I can remember most things from both games. As a Biggio fan since a kid when he was a rookie it was special for me to attend number 3000. I modeled my play after him, I collected his cards, and finally got to meet him when he attended a TriStar show. I became a fan of the Stros as kid because of Biggio and I will always be as Stros fan. No one in their history hsd more hustle, heart, and dedication to this city that Craig. I hope to be in Cooperstown in 2013 and get a chance to meet him once again. Thanks for the post Alyson, great job as always!

Damn it, Alyson, you made me cry tears of joy again…what a night it was four years ago to witness Biggio’s milestone. Such a special night…and then to have Bags back between the lines and seeing those two men grasp each other in their arms capping off 19 years together…bring me another tissue!

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