Plaque to be displayed at Minute Maid Park on Aug. 22
By Brian McTaggart
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- If delivering his acceptance speech before a crowd of 45,000 fans on Sunday after wasn't enough to allow the reality to sink in for Craig Biggio that he had reached the Baseball Hall of Fame, seeing his plaque hanging in the museum's plaque gallery did the trick.
Biggio and his family got a chance to see the bronze plaque hanging in the gallery for the first time Monday morning, posing for pictures and smiling from ear to ear while coming to the realization he was now immortalized among the game's greats.
"It's real," Biggio said. "It really happened. Yesterday really happened. It wasn't a dream. It's just pretty amazing, pretty cool."
Biggio was inducted alongside John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson, whose plaques hang next to his. Seeing the plaque on the wall was the culmination of Hall of Fame weekend for Biggio, who is the first player to have an Astros logo on his cap in the Hall. There are 215 players in the Hall of Fame out of about 18,500 who have played Major League Baseball.
"For your plaque to have the Astros star on it -- you dedicated your whole life and career to one town, one city -- to see it hanging on a wall in Cooperstown, it doesn't get any better than that," Biggio said.
Biggio's plaque hangs in a prime spot in the front of the gallery, not far from the plaques of the first class of 1936: Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and Ty Cobb.
"It's kind of crazy when you think about it," Biggio said. "You're talking about these guys here. Those guys were the Hall of Famers. Sometimes you don't view yourself as one of those guys. But now you are. It's kind of crazy in a way."
Biggio says he plans to return to Cooperstown each year for the ceremony, but he'll always come and take a look at the plaques.
"Somebody asked me the question when I walked through the hallway, 'Am I going to just walk to my plaque?'" Biggio said. "No, I'll always stop and look at the other guys first, and try to take something away from each guy each time that you come before you get to yours."
The inscription below Biggio's name on his plaque begins, "Gritty spark plug who ignited Astros offense for 20 Major League seasons." The first word sticks out to Biggio, who always played the game hard.
"When you look at it and the first word is 'gritty,' that's kind of the player that I was," he said. "I still haven't got through the rest of it yet, but I like the way it starts. It's perfect."
Astros fans will get to see the actual plaque on Aug. 22 when it's put on display at Minute Maid Park. The plaque will be removed from the gallery in Cooperstown on Aug. 20 and returned to the gallery by noon ET on Aug. 24.