HOUSTON -- Second baseman Craig Biggio and the Astros agreed
Friday to a $5.15 million, one-year contract that will keep him in
Houston for a 20th season.
Biggio turns 41 in December and needs only 70 hits to become the
first Astro and 27th player in history to reach 3,000 hits.
"I pinch myself every day," Biggio said. "The support and
loyalty I receive every day from the people in the community is one
of the reasons I love it so much. I am indebted to this
Biggio remembers his rookie season with the Houston Astros,
sitting on a plane near Nolan Ryan and musing about how anyone
could last for two decades in the majors.
Biggio not only did it, he never left Houston, a rarity in the
era of free agency.
Biggio, who has played in 2,709 games and 19 seasons for
Houston, met the media Friday in a room adorned with pictures from
throughout his years as an Astro.
"Twenty years will change you," Biggio said. "Looking at all
these pictures just brings back memories of all the things and all
the time. It makes you feel old, too."
Biggio is Houston's leader in hits (2,930), runs (1,776),
doubles (637), extra-base hits (970) and total bases (4,514), and
he is second to Jeff Bagwell in homers (281) and RBI (1,125).
"We have talked about things, we've talked about players,
leadership, character and what it takes to make the team go," said
Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr. "He and Jeff Bagwell, I have said
hundreds and hundreds of times, that they have been the heartbeat
of the Houston Astros."
Biggio said he's encountered many players over the years who've
jumped at big-money contracts and regretted it later.
"The grass isn't always greener on the other side," Biggio
said. "Sometimes, players have the misconception and they forget
that. When they get there, they're like, 'Oh, maybe I should've
stayed where I was at."'
General manager Tim Purpura visited the Hall of Fame recently
and envisioned Biggio being inducted some day. The 3,000-hit
plateau would almost ensure enshrinement.
"It's not very often in the history of a franchise when you can
introduce and announce a contract for a player who will be entering
his 20th season," Purpura said. "He has, obviously, Hall of
Fame-caliber numbers already."
Biggio batted .246 with 21 homers and 62 RBIs last year. The
seven-time All-Star's production waned in the final months of last
season, especially on the road, where he finished with a .178
average. Purpura said Biggio is still the clear-cut starter at the
position entering spring training.
Biggio wouldn't say definitely if 2007 would be his last season.
He said helping the Astros reach the postseason was his first goal,
but reaching 3,000 hits was a close second.
"It's a nice thing for myself, but I want it for my family,"
Biggio said. "What I really want it for is I want it for the
people and city of Houston. They deserve to have it and I'm going
to do everything humanly possible in order to get that."