Craig Biggio became the 27th player in Major League history to record 3,000 hits when he did it on June 28 in Houston. The 20-year veteran is one of the most popular players in Houston Astros history and one of the most respected players in baseball. The 41-year-old second baseman recently spoke to MLBPLAYERS.com about his milestone.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How does getting your 3,000th hit feel a couple weeks after the fact? Do you get reminded of it now with every city you go to?
Biggio: It's been great. I knew how big a number it is and how precious the number is, but I had no idea how many people would respond to it. The fans at Wrigley Field, for instance, were great. You play against them for 20 years, but you don't know how they feel about you. The fans everywhere have been fantastic. I get a lot of "Way to go, congratulations, great career," and so on and so forth. It just makes you feel good as a player because they appreciate the milestone and the way you play the game. It's great and it makes you feel great as a player.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What the fans probably appreciate is that a milestone like this is something you can't fake. You can't get to 3,000 with a lucky season. You can only get it through hard work. Is that how you feel about it?
Biggio: Definitely. You've got to go out and play. In the National League you have to go out there and play a position every day. It just takes time and years, and it's never anything you set your sights on. But when you get to the end of the year, like last year, and you're 70 away, you're kind of like, "Man, this is crazy." You've got a chance at something so precious, and then you're able to do it and get it done. The day in Houston when I got it, the way the game went, the way fans were was really special. So far, the World Series was great, but the whole evening was the best, to me, that I've been a part of.
MLBPLAYERS.com: After you reached the mark, your family was able to come out and celebrate it with you. How exciting was that for them?
Biggio: It was very exciting. Family pays the biggest price for anybody who plays the game for a long time, because we're always gone. Obviously to do it at home and have them come out on the field, it was very emotional for everyone.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You didn't back into this record. As of mid-July you were third on the team in hits, first in runs. But recently the talk around the team is that you will sit more on the road and play at home. How do you feel about the way you're playing at 41?
Biggio: I'm very happy with the way I've been playing. I could probably do this for another two, three years. But I've got a pretty good idea of what I want to do and I'm going to let everyone know pretty soon. The game is fun for me. I enjoy this. I love the competition. To be able to do what I'm doing at 41 is great.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What's your pregame routine like? You're known for working hard before games to keep in shape.
Biggio: As you get older, you have to work hard and there are more things you have to do to keep your body in playing shape. I'm usually one of the first ones in the clubhouse and one of the last ones to leave. I just love the ballpark. I love hanging out here. I love mingling with the workers that work here, the clubhouse guys. You come here early and get your meal in you and you hang out and you prepare yourself mentally. Even more than physical preparation, I think that's probably the biggest thing you've got to do if you want to play a long time is mentally get yourself ready to play every day, no ifs, ands or buts. I think once you get over that edge, you have things that bother you all of the time, sure, but you just have to work your way through it and be ready to play.
MLBPLAYERS.com: It's been a disappointing season for the Astros. How has the clubhouse been during this stretch?
Biggio: So far, to date, this has been one of the most disappointing seasons I've ever had here. Our expectations are higher. We're not done, but to this date, it's been disappointing. We can play better and I know we can start playing better, but we'll see what happens in the next couple months.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Since you hit 3,000, everyone must want an autograph. Have you ever signed so much stuff in your life?
Biggio: It's getting to be more and more stuff. But it's a nice feeling. Yogi Berra is a great friend of mine and one of my coaches early in my career. He's one of the most recognizable people in the world and if he can sign for people every day, I can too. It is nice. It's part of history. People asking to get stuff signed, it's an honor. I always say you start worrying when people stop asking.
Jon Greenberg is a freelance writer based in Chicago.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.