On induction's eve, Biggio embracing Hall fraternity
By Brian McTaggart
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The day before being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, a weary Craig Biggio awoke early for a round of golf and was waiting in the lobby of the Otesaga Resort Hotel with his son Conor when Hall of Famers George Brett and Bobby Cox and former Braves president John Schuerholz stopped to chat over coffee.
Biggio and Brett talked about Friday night's game between the Astros and Royals -- the Astros won, 4-0 -- before Biggio hit the links Saturday with his brother, son and longtime agent, Barry Axelrod. Just a day earlier, Biggio sat down near the fireplace in the lobby and had an hourlong chat with Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry.
Baseball's biggest legends have welcomed Biggio into their select fraternity, and Biggio will join the club when he's inducted alongside Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Randy Johnson on Sunday. Live coverage of Hall of Fame induction day begins at 11 a.m. ET Sunday on MLB Network, simulcast live on MLB.com.
"I'm having a lot of fun with it," Biggio said Saturday. "I don't really want to stay in my room. It's like being part of this fraternity that a lot of Hall of Famers talk about it as special. … I'm honored to be a part of it."
In the hours leading up to the induction, Biggio has been a busy man. He estimates he'll have about 40-50 family members in attendance Sunday, and that's just the start. Main Street has been a sea of orange with Astros fans that have traveled from all over to see the first homegrown Astros player inducted into the Hall of Fame.
"The organization is very proud of Craig," Astros owner Jim Crane said. "We tried to make it special for him and his friends and family. The weekend's about Craig and we're here to support him."
Several of Biggio's former teammates, including Jeff Bagwell, managers and general managers are in town as well to help him share the moment. Crane and team president Reid Ryan chartered a plane to fly from Houston on Friday and let Biggio invite some guests, which included longtime clubhouse employees.
"I'm very grateful," Biggio said. "With Jim and Reid, those guys have gone above and beyond the call. To be able to get the clubhouse guys on there was great. There's a lot of people that can't get here on their own."
Including this year's induction class, 53 of the 69 living Hall of Famers will be at the ceremony Sunday, and Biggio has rubbed shoulders with many of them in the last few days. As part of sort of initiation, Biggio was forced to belt out "Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi for his first karaoke experience.
"Whatever these guys tell me to do, I'll do," he joked. "Am I going to tell Sandy Koufax no?"
Like he did as a young player, Biggio tried to be quiet and listen to what the Hall of Famers have to say about Sunday's festivities and the all-important speech.
"They're like, 'Enjoy the moment,'" he said. "'We've all been there. We understand the nervousness, excitedness, and sometimes when you touch on certain names it becomes emotional. Just take your time and do the best you can.' They've been really good. I'm looking forward to being that guy next year when you can sit in the chair and watch somebody else stress out until they're done with it."
Biggio laments two of his closest friends -- Hall of Fame announce Milo Hamilton and Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra -- won't be able to attend due to health reasons. He said the family and friends of former teammate Ken Caminiti, who passed away in 2004, will be in attendance as well as countless others who touched his life and career.
"The range of emotions is really incredible," he said. "Obviously, you have your family and the organization and you think about the city. I don't know how many text messages I got. Every airplane out of Houston was filled with orange Astros shirts on. It doesn't getting any better than this, to be honest with you."
Biggio has been working on his acceptance speech for several months, with the help of his family. He's tried hard not to give too much away during interviews leading up to the Hall of Fame, but he's willing to change things on the fly.
"You've got to kind of see what happens, see how it goes," Biggio said. "You've got certain people that are emotional people in your life. My mom and dad aren't here anymore, and that's not easy. Until you get there tomorrow at 1:15, I can't comment on that. I hope it goes well."
Biggio was asked if he would cry.
"If I cry, I cry," he said. "It's not a big deal. You're 50. That ... happens all the time. You never know how this thing is going to take you. I may get through it fine without showing a tear or not, but it's something that could happen."