What a day at the ballpark.
The biggest crowd ever in Astros history showed up Sunday to say thanks and to send off their favorite 2nd baseman, Craig Biggio, into retirement.
From pre-game to post-game, it was an emotional day.
Craig and daughter Quinn threw out the first pitch to sons Cavan and Conor. Astros Owner Drayton McLane presented Biggio a letter from Commissioner Bud Selig, and Biggio addressed the fans who have followed his 20-year career, fighting back emotions.
To his fans, Biggio was a hero and they showed their love with standing ovations, over and over throughout the game. Ten to be exact.
Some fans drove hundreds of miles just to see him. "It was worth every minute," said Nancy Ratcliff, who drove in from Dallas. "I wouldn’t have missed this for anything. I grew up watching Biggio, and I just had to be here today to honor him." So many followed number 7 for 20 years.
"It was one of those special moments today. I’m going to miss it,"said Biggio. This is all I really know. But the fans have made it worthwhile. That’s what the game’s about."
You see, Biggio epitomizes everything that is right with baseball. He hustled down the baselines – each and every time. He played the game honestly, fairly, and was a good teammate. He taught the younger players what they needed to know to become better, and he gave his time off the field, to his beloved Sunshine Kids. In five years, Cooperstown will be calling.
The fans were not the only ones cheering him on. Atlanta Braves players showed their respect applauding him, and pats on the back and chatting up at second base as they made their way around the bases. Chipper Jones, the Braves 3rd baseman, took a little longer to throw to first when Biggio grounded to third in the seventh, hoping he would beat out the throw. That was not only a sign of respect, it was a sign of class.
The long season and games away kept Biggio from his kids more than he liked.
Now that all changes.
Now it’s all going to be about them. There will be driving the kids to school, high school and junior high games with his boys, spending time with daughter Quinn, and helping wife Patty around the house. It will be different for him at first – but the family moves to the forefront.
At the top of the 8th inning, the Astros icon walked off the field for the last time. Teammates rushed to the field to pay tribute to him. Braves players tipped their caps, and the fans never let up.
After the final bow, his numbers will speak for themselves: Games played 2850, at bats 10,876, 668 doubles (most ever by a righty), 20-years on one team, 20-years in one uniform. It was about how one Astro played the game.
But Sunday’s game was more about the last time, the end of an era.
After the last pitch, Biggio saluted the fans by taking a lap around the stadium. He thanked his fans for accepting him for the last 20 years. "I am going to miss you," he told the standing room only crowd. Thank you very much for being my family."
The day was perfect.
What a way to go…..
Thanks for the memories Craig.