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Farewell to an icon (cont.)

Posted: Tuesday October 2, 2007 9:49AM; Updated: Wednesday October 3, 2007 2:28PM
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By Whitney Pastorek, Special to SI.com

Biggio always gave his all and switched positions several times for the good of the team.
Biggio always gave his all and switched positions several times for the good of the team.
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Three-thousand-sixty hits, 668 doubles, 414 stolen bases, 1,844 runs scored and 291 home runs, just nine away from another milestone. It seems worth pointing out that Biggio does not plan on lingering around the ballyard in retirement, at least not just yet. He says he plans to spend the foreseeable future "living at the gas pump, being a big yellow taxi" for his kids -- who, for the record, kinda think it would've been cool for him to get 300 homers. Their dad says, "I can't justify it." He's walking away because family is more important, and because he just doesn't care so much about all that stats stuff. Instead, if he could ask you to remember him for one thing, it would be this:

"It's as somebody who went out there and played the game the right way. Played the game hard. I understand that baseball is a game of failure, but I don't have anything to be disappointed about. If I didn't play the game hard every day, then I would have a regret, but I don't."

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Luis Gonzalez, a former Astros outfielder and current Dodger, on Biggio: "I loved playing with him. I just liked the way he always had the dirty helmet, the pine tar all over everything, his white tape all the way up his wrist. We were actually playing against them this year when he announced his retirement [on July 24]. I snuck in and sat in the back for the press conference, and I thought it was pretty neat just to see a guy do something like that, get emotional with his kids and his wife and everybody sitting there, and then for him to go out that night and hit the grand slam, the game-winning homer. Sadly, it was against us, but it was kind of a fitting moment for the way his whole career has gone. Bidge has a flair for the dramatic."

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How old is Biggio? He's so old that there are players on the current Astros roster that took pictures with him at Photo Day when they were kids.

A first-round draft pick, he joined the 'Stros in 1988 as a catcher, smacked his first hit against the Dodgers' Orel Hershiser, his first home run against Goose Gossage. Moved to second base in 1992 to save his knees, paired with slugger Jeff Bagwell in taking a Houston franchise summed up by disappointment and turning it into one that wins things, or at least comes close. Earned four Gold Gloves, seven All-Star appearances, launched the "Killer B's." Changed positions again in 2003 to make room for Jeff Kent. Moved back to the middle bag in 2005, and helped lead the team to its first World Series appearance, at last ridding this proud sports city of one enormous burden. And through it all, when chances came to play for other, bigger, shinier organizations -- when the Yankees came calling in 1995, for example, offering what Biggio calls "a pretty nice number" -- he always said no thank you. Craig Biggio was an Astro, the same way Tony Gwynn was a Padre and Robin Yount was a Brewer and George Brett was a Royal. "To be associated with people like that makes you feel pretty good," he admits. "I think it's an individual thing, whether you want to stay or you want to go. What happens with a lot of players, they always think the grass is greener on the other side. They look at the money. But we're all making a good living. You can't complain."

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