Craig Biggio is no longer the focus of the sports universe. But he’s still very much at the center of it.
Biggio is in Miami Monday to watch the BCS National Championship game between Alabama-Notre Dame. His son, Conor, is an outfielder with the Fighting Irish while youngest boy, Cavan, is a high school infielder committed to Notre Dame.
Yet that won’t be the biggest sports moment of the week for Biggio. Not by a longshot. Five years after the Kings Park native retired from the Houston Astros, Biggio will find out Wednesday whether he’s been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
"Obviously, if the phone rings and it's the Hall of Fame, I'll be excited for a lot of different reasons," Biggio told MLB.com.
Biggio, 47, is one of 24 first-time candidates along with 13 others who received at least five percent of the vote in 2012. He’s also the least controversial. Other eligible players such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have been linked to performance enhancing drugs late in their careers and are symbols of baseball’s tainted steroids era.
Biggio was not a pure power hitter, just an exceptionally consistent one known for hard-running on the base paths and a slick glove at second base. The Long Islander collected 3,060 hits, 1,175 RBI, 414 steals, 291 homers and hit .281 in 20 big league seasons. He was a seven-time all-star and won five Silver Sluggers and four Gold Gloves.
"The quintessential hard-nose baseball player that could hit in his sleep," said Farmingdale State Baseball Coach Keith Osik, who is a few years younger than Biggio and emulated him as a high school star at Shoreham-Wading River.
Biggio idolized Yankees catcher Thurman Munson, according to ESPN's Tim Kurkjian, and moved from catcher to second base in 1992.
He led the Astros to the postseason six times and played in the 2005 World Series. His 668 doubles are fifth in baseball history and Biggio was hit by pitch 285 times, second all-time.
He enters his fifth season as the baseball coach at St. Thomas High School in Houston, where he won back-to-back state championships in 2010-11. Cavan, now a senior, is rated as one of the top 25 high school seniors in the nation, according to Baseball America.
“If there’s one thing he’s been able to pass along to the kids, it’s to respect the game,” St. Thomas Athletic Director Mike Netzel said of his iconic coach. “The game is going to keep going on after you graduate and after your kids graduate. It’s a privilege to be able to put on the uniform.”