Biggio elected to Hall of Fame in 3rd year on ballot

HOUSTON (AP) Craig Biggio played for the Houston Astros longer than any other player in franchise history, donning the uniform for 20 seasons.

On Tuesday, he was rewarded for an illustrious career by becoming the first Astros player to be elected to baseball's Hall of Fame.

Biggio called it a huge day for Astros' fans.

''To be able to give this back to them now, I'm happy,'' he said. ''They deserve it.''

Biggio, who played catcher, second base and the outfield, received 82.7 percent of the votes and was elected along with pitchers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz. Biggio got 68.2 percent his first year and came just two votes shy of being elected last year.

The seven-time All-Star retired in 2007 with 3,060 hits, and his 668 doubles are the major league high for a right-handed batter. He holds the MLB record for times hit by pitches with 285 during a career that included 291 homers, 1,175 RBIs, 1,161 walks, 414 stolen bases and 1,844 runs.

He's the only player in MLB history have 600 doubles, 250 homers, 3,000 hits and 400 steals.

As one-third of Houston's famed `Killer B's' with Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman, Biggio helped the Astros become the first team from Texas to reach the World Series in 2005. Despite being swept by the Chicago White Sox, Biggio said helping the team to the World Series was his greatest moment with the Astros.

''For Jeff and I we were just two East Coast kids that came to Texas and just loved to play baseball, and that's all we wanted to do,'' Biggio said. ''And our big dream and goal from Day 1 was always to get to the World Series.''

Bagwell was thrilled at Biggio's election.

''He played as hard as anyone in the world,'' Bagwell said. ''He was an amazing player and an amazing teammate that I appreciated a great deal. My career would not have been as successful if it were not for him. I am very happy for him.''

There was but a tinge of disappointment in Biggio's big day. Bagwell fell short of the 75 percent needed for election with 55.7 percent in his fifth year on the ballot, up from 54.3 percent a year ago.

''I kind of miss my boy up here right now,'' Biggio said, adding Bagwell is ''no doubt'' a Hall of Famer. ''Hopefully something positive happens in the next year or two.''

Astros' fans around the country took to Twitter to express their excitement. Texans' star J.J. Watt, who often dons Astros' hats, simply tweeted `Biggio!!!' moments after the announcement.

''Barbara and I join Houston Astros fans of all ages - and fans of baseball, period - in congratulating our dear friend, Craig Biggio, on his selection to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame,'' former President George H.W. Bush said in a statement. ''He was one of the `Killer B's', known for his sterling leadership both on and off the field. And during the course of his remarkable career he set the highest standard for both performance and professionalism.''

Biggio was all smiles while joined by his family at a news conference.

''I woke up at 4:30 and was sick as a dog and nervous as heck,'' he recalled.

His wife Patty had never seen him like he was on Tuesday morning.

''He was sweaty and his face was splotchy,'' she said. ''He was very nervous. Had to keep moving.''

So at 7 a.m. Biggio lifted weights and ran. Still amped, he went on a 2-mile walk a bit later to try and calm down. That didn't ease his nerves, so he came back and threw batting practice to his sons.

When the call finally came, a relieved Biggio wept and hugged and high-fived his wife and children while still on the phone.

''Craig worked so hard every day and it's so nice to see his hard work recognized in the best way it could be,'' Patty said.

Biggio had a walk down memory lane to his childhood days back on Long Island, outside New York City. During a conference call with reporters, Biggio thought back to a job he had before Houston made him a first-round pick in 1987.

''Growing up in Long Island, I delivered your newspaper, by the way - Newsday,'' he told a reporter. ''I had a newspaper route for many, many years. It was my brother's and then my sister, and then it went down to me.''

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AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.

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