Biggio arrives in Astros camp to lend expertise
Houston legend heartened by outpouring of support since missing HOF by two votes
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The outpouring of support Craig Biggio received from friends and family members after coming just two votes shy of election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame two months ago made things easier to swallow for the Astros legend.
Biggio, who arrived in Astros camp on Monday for four days, is likely to get elected next year, when he'll be on the ballot for a third time. But the man who has more hits than any other Astros player (3,060) and more doubles than any right-handed hitter in history was disappointed.
"I really think the way that everybody's felt really has made it easier for myself, as far as the disappointment that everybody expressed to me," Biggio said. "It made it easier for me ... just from the standpoint of people wanted it to happen. We kind of hoped it would happen, but it didn't, but we came close. The way that everybody felt about it, it made it easier for me at least, I know that."
Biggio appeared on 74.8 percent of the ballots of the voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, missing the 75-percent cutoff point of 429 by two votes. That tied Nellie Fox in 1985 and Pie Traynor in '47, both of whom also missed by two votes, for the smallest margin in balloting history in terms of number of votes. That sets Biggio up to be an overwhelming favorite to make it next year. When asked if he would like to see any changes in the voting process, Biggio said he's not questioning anything.
"I'm grateful that we came really close, and hopefully next year it will be a really magical year," he said. "Like I said before, it's not for me. It's for my family, number one; it's for the fans; it's for the organization; and I'm fourth on the list. It's true.
"The Astros don't have a guy in there, and I couldn't think of something more exciting than to be able to hopefully have that happen for them. You couldn't get any closer. I knew I needed 39 votes or something from the year before, and we got the 39 votes, except they picked up two more writers."
Biggio, 48, will spend time in camp in uniform and will work with both the Minor League and big league players. He just came from North Carolina, where he was watching his sons play in a college tournament for Notre Dame while scouting players the Astros are eyeing for the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. That included North Carolina State left-hander Carlos Rodon, who's the favorite for the Astros at No. 1.
"He's a nice player," Biggio said.
Rodon pitched Saturday against UCLA in Cary, N.C., taking the loss despite holding the Bruins to three hits and three walks in seven innings while striking out eight batters. Rodon is 1-2 with a 2.14 ERA in three starts, striking out 23 in 21 innings.
Rodon's next start will come this weekend against Notre Dame in Raleigh, N.C. Biggio's youngest son, Cavan, is a freshman second baseman for the Irish and has started all 11 games this year, hitting .263. His oldest son, Conor, is a junior who's a reserve outfielder.
Astros director of scouting Mike Elias has been leaning on Biggio to give him a scouting report of some players while he gets to see his sons play. It's a perfect role for Biggio, who recently stepped down at the head coach at St. Thomas High School in Houston, where he coached his sons.
"They've given me a list of guys that are potential people, and I'll go look at them and we'll get the opportunity to go back there for another week and see some more guys and some of the same guys, so it's good," he said.
Biggio said the scouting process takes teamwork, and he's glad to be a part of it.
"Scouts are a huge part of your organization, and once scouts hand them off to the player-development side of things and [director of player development] Quinton [McCracken] and everybody, it's up to those guys to hopefully teach these young men how to tap into certain things," Biggio said. "It's up to them, predominantly. It's fun with the whole process and the way it works.
"The Draft is our future, and I think Mike is doing an excellent job of it so far. If we're going to a game, we might as well see some guys and help out as much as we can. That's what we're trying to do."