Biggio Becomes 27th Player To Reach 3,000 Hits

Thursday, June 28th 2007, 10:07 pm

By: News On 6

HOUSTON (AP) _ Craig Biggio became the 27th player to reach 3,000 career hits on Thursday night with a single to center field in the 7th inning.

The Astros 2nd baseman was thrown out trying to stretch the play into a double on his third hit of the night against the Rockies. The hit also tied the game at 1.

Biggio is the first player in two seasons to reach 3,000 hits. Rafael Palmeiro reached it on July 15, 2005, with Baltimore.

The 41-year-old, who entered the season needing 70 hits to reach the milestone, has played his entire 20-year career with the Astros, making him the longest tenured player in franchise history.

He is tied for 26th on the career hit list with Roberto Clemente.

The sellout crowd stood and chanted 'Bi-ggi-o' at each bat and cameras twinkled with each pitch. Fans held signs that read 'Mr. 3,000' and 'Biggio's Hit Parade.' One woman wore an orange shirt that featured block letters that read 'Biggio' and '3,000.'

His 3,000th hit came one day shy of the 19th anniversary of his first career hit, a single off Orel Hershiser on June 29, 1988.

There was a five-minute break after the hit. Everyone on the team, including those in the bullpen, stormed the field to congratulate Biggio. His wife Patty, sons Conor and Cavan, and daughter Quinn also joined in the celebration. His sons were in the dugout acting as bat boys.

He kissed his wife and held his 7-year-old daughter in the air.

He went to the dugout and hugged everyone while the crowd continued to go wild. Biggio then pulled Jeff Bagwell out of the dugout and returned with him to the field, where they stood arm and arm. Biggio and Bagwell played together for 15 seasons before Bagwell retired in December.

Biggio's first hit of the night came on a single to center field in the 3rd inning.

The second hit, also a single, came on a grounder to 3rd base in the 5th. Garrett Atkins badly overthrew 1st base on the play, leaving the official scorer to pause for several tense seconds before calling it a single and ruling an error allowed Biggio to advance to 2nd.

He said before the game he was glad to have the chance to reach the mark at home.

``The fans are excited and they deserve to have this happen and I'm going to do my part to make it happen,'' Biggio said.

He reflected on his career and the importance of reaching the milestone before Thursday's game.

``I've been very grateful and blessed to be in the situation where I'm at now and to play one of the greatest games in the world for 20 years,'' he said. ``This is very, very special.''

Astros general manager Tim Purpura said the team plans to honor Biggio in August for reaching the mark. Barry Bonds is the next closest player to 3,000 hits. The San Francisco Giants slugger is 70 hits away and needs seven home runs to pass Hank Aaron on the career list.

``He's a great player,'' Bonds said of Biggio. ``He's always been good, ever since I've watched him play. He's phenomenal. I would love the opportunity to play with him. Leadoff hitters don't come around that often.''

During his two decades with the Astros, Biggio has become known in the city as much for his charitable work as he has for his play. He has been the national spokesman for the Sunshine Kids Foundation, which helps children with cancer, for more than a decade.

He hosts an annual party for the patients at Minute Maid Park and puts on a golf tournament each year to raise money for the foundation. Sunshine Kids officials estimate that the tournament has raised more than $1 million for the cause.

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