HOUSTON (AP) - Craig Biggio doffed his cap and waved to the crowd from first base. He was nearly in tears, realizing the standing ovation may be one
of his last as an Astro.
"The way the crowd reacted was kind of overwhelming," Biggio said in the clubhouse this week after becoming the first Astro to reach 2,600 hits. "I
have been playing here for 17 years and the fans have always been great to me. To be able to do it in this city, the only city I've played in, was
At 38, Biggio is having the kind of season few could have expected from a player in the twilight of his career. He's been a pleasant surprise for a
team that's had few of them - Houston was 19 games behind St. Louis in the NL Central and trailed Chicago by six games in the wild-card race heading
into Wednesday night.
Biggio leads the team with 141 hits, 35 doubles and 77 runs. He's second with a .287 average and tied for second with 19 homers. Among leadoff hitters
in the majors, Biggio ranks first in homers, second in doubles and fourth in hits.
He's also strengthened his credentials for the Hall of Fame this season, passing Tony Gwynn for 19th place on the doubles list and becoming only the
fifth player in league history with 2,400 hits, 200 homers, 500 doubles, 300 steals and 1,000 career walks.
The others on that list? Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Paul Molitor and Rickey Henderson.
"It takes a lot of talent and a lot of hard work and knowing how to play the game to reach those milestones," said new Houston teammate Roger Clemens,
who knows a thing or two about milestones.
It still might not be enough for the Astros to keep Biggio around for an 18th year. The Astros hold a $3 million contract option on Biggio for 2005,
but could pay a $1 million buyout if they decide not to pick up the option.
Biggio leads the Astros in games, hits, run, at-bats and doubles. He has made a club-record 16 straight Opening Day starts. He's also shown plenty of
selflessness over the years, moving from catcher to second base to center field and left field for the sake of the team.