Growing up in Northeast Ohio in the 50’s and 60’s my boyhood sports heroes played for the Indians and Brown’s. Those memories of seeing games in the old Municipal Stadium stay with you into adulthood. So a family move to Houston Texas kinda’ posed the dilemma of changing allegiances to the Oilers and Colt 45s … they later became the Astros. It takes a while to convert old loyalties and youthful memories. If you participated in sports in high school, as I did, you might wind up with a lifelong addiction to the skill sets of great players (see my Derek Jeter 10/3/14 post) and to the attributes of successful franchises … businesses, if you will, in public view, analyzed following every game and season.
This past week Houston celebrated Craig Biggio’s election into the Baseball Hall of Fame. And, I mean, Houston celebrated! Why would “the city” rise up to honor a baseball player? Actually, for a number of reasons … let’s see how many come to mind for me as I sift through this week’s reporters chronicles …
First: yes, he posted Hall of Fame stats: 3060 hits, 668 doubles, 400+ stolen bases, 291 home runs, and a .291 lifetime average.
Second: seven-time All-Star, as a catcher (1991), then as a second baseman (’92 – ’97 ).
Third: he love the game … Upon learning of his selection this past Tuesday, he said “I’m not going to lie. I was crying. As you get older, it’s the way you go. I never played the game to get into the Hall of Fame. You play the game because you love it and have passion and energy.”
Fourth: teammate, loyalty, leadership … over his 20 year span he agreed to move from catcher to second to outfield, then back to catcher to help the team. Craig: “this is been my town for close to 30 years. I have no regrets in my career. I played the game hard. I played the game right. It was always about the team. It was never about ‘I’. It was always about winning. It was all about getting to the World Series, and that’s the ultimate goal of every year.”
Fifth: humility … in response to his honor he thanked his family and the fans.
Sixth: gratitude … “When you play 20 years in the city, sooner or later the fans are going to get tired of seeing you run out there every day,” he said. “We had an amazing relationship. I’m grateful for that and happy to be able to give back to them today.”
7th: I couldn’t think of another here … other then this was a number on his uniform. Nothing about luck in his career, maybe except for consistency of playing – I mean his durability. There is little mention this week, that in an era of enhancements, he played clean. And maybe the city’s and the fans’ attraction was the way he lived clean and gave back ( Sunshine Kids Foundation ) – way before he was celebrated for his work achievements.
My brother and I were lucky ( he started the night at 2997 ) to be at the game in 2007 when he got hit number 3,000 in the 7th inning … and was thrown out at second trying to stretch it into a double … he went 5 for 6 that night. Then we watched his final game as he did a victory lap while doffing his cap to the fans, then to the opposing team who lined their dugout railing in tribute.
Our B-G-O takeaway? Show up, love what you do, do your best and thank those who help you grow as a person … and don’t wait to give back.