06/29/07 3:35 AM ET
Teammates laud Biggio's persistence
Historic achievement reached after years of unmatched effort
By Ben DuBose / MLB.com
After Biggio roped a single to right-center field to drive in the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning on Thursday night, Astros teammates everywhere -- in both the dugout and the bullpen -- joined with Biggio's family to rush the field and congratulate the veteran for his milestone. The celebration lasted nearly 10 minutes and gave the team a fitting way to honor the Houston legend for his contribution to the franchise.
"That was a really neat deal," said Lance Berkman, Biggio's teammate for the past eight years. "I was a little more emotional than even I thought I would be. When it happened and I saw his family come out there on the field, and to know all the years he's been here and to have Jeff [Bagwell] come out, I thought it was a great touch and tribute to him and really to their career together. It was a great night."
Simply seeing Biggio record his 3,000th career hit would've been enough to satisfy his teammates on this memorable night. Instead, Biggio showed a flair for the dramatic, delivering his first five-hit performance since April 3, 2001, to raise his career total to 3,002.
His final hit of the night proved to be a representation of the grit that has defined his entire career. With two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the 11th inning and the Astros trailing by one run, Biggio tapped a pitch to third base and hustled down the first-base line, beating the throw to the first-base bag by a half-step and keeping the inning alive.
Three batters later, Carlos Lee's walk-off grand slam sent Biggio into the clubhouse as a winner.
"To me, that last hit that he got -- beating out the infield single to start the rally that won the game -- is the epitome of how Craig Biggio has played this game, and he's done it for 20 years," said catcher Brad Ausmus, a teammate of Biggio's for nine seasons and a close friend.
"His tenacity is unmatched," Ausmus continued. "I've been honored to play with him. Bidge has played this game as hard as anyone I've seen or played with in my entire career."
While some analysts wondered if the 41-year-old Biggio had stayed around too long, those within the Astros clubhouse said that his determination more than made up for the loss of any speed.
"People talk about him losing a step or this or that," said Chris Burke, a second-base understudy of sorts behind Biggio. "He might not be as fast as he used to be, but he still gets down the line very good, especially if he's out in front.
"It is remarkable how he continues to leg balls out. But we're so used to it that when he hit it, I knew he was going to be safe. From the outside looking in, to see a 41-year-old run that hard on a ground ball, I guess it's surprising. But to us, it's not, because that's how he plays."
Although Lee delivered one of the biggest and most dramatic blasts of his career, the first-year Astros outfielder was quick to deflect attention from himself and give praise to Biggio for his accomplishment.
"I'll tell you what -- I've been on four different teams, and I haven't seen anyone work as hard as that guy works," Lee said. "He's just amazing the way he works. When he gets here [every day], he's working and doing stuff and preparing for the game.
"He's  and he's in great shape, and you look at the guy and he can play for two more years. He still runs good, plays good defense and hits. There's nothing cheap about that guy. Every single day, he goes 100 percent."
Starting pitcher Roy Oswalt threw well and kept the Astros in a position to win Thursday's game, and he said that Biggio's night exemplified what the right-hander had seen from the second baseman in his seven years in Houston.
"Coming through Houston, I've gotten to play with Hall of Fame guys, as far as Bagwell and [Roger] Clemens, and Craig is right there with all of them," Oswalt said. "He's got better numbers than anybody at second, and he's a Hall of Fame player who deserves to be there. Tonight's just the icing on the cake for him.
"Doing it here at home adds more to it. He's been playing for a long time, and to come back to Houston and get 3,000, that's just awesome."
In addition to Biggio's five-hit performance, the fact that the hits came in a winning effort may make the night all the more memorable.
"The No. 1 thing was that he wanted to win," Astros chairman and CEO Drayton McLane said. "I knew all along he'd get 3,000 hits, but we just wanted to get the hits that would win for us. And every hit [on Thursday], we wouldn't be here as a winner if not for those hits.
"He exemplifies what the Houston Astros stand for. He exemplifies what baseball is all about."
Ben DuBose is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.