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I have been wanting to do this for a long time. In light of yesterday’s sad events involving steroids, I want to turn my attention to one of the brightest spots in baseball over the last nearly twenty years, Craig Biggio. So, in honor of Craig Biggio’s stellar career with the Astros, this week’s Friday Shout Out goes out to Craig Biggio.

Honestly, I am not very optimistic that we will actually hear from Craig Biggio, but the great thing about the blogosphere is that you just never know who might show up! So, here we go. (Speaking of the blogging world, check out this great blog that was inspired by how many times Craig Biggio was hit by a pitch during his career, Plunk Biggio.)

First, I want to say thank you. When I was 7 years old I saw you play for the first time in 1988. I have to be honest and admit that I was at the game to see Nolan Ryan play, and I had never heard of you. (Which is probably a good thing because you were 0-fer in the game and a few Dodgers stole second base off of you…) But it would not be long at all before you replaced Nolan Ryan as my favorite baseball player. As I became a more serious baseball player, my interest in your career also increased. In high school during one baseball season, I carried a baseball card of yours with me every time my team had a game. (I’m not sure, but I think there is a chance that admitting that on this blog will come back to haunt me someday.)

Here are things I will never forget about you, Mr. Biggio. I will never forget being one of two people to get your autograph at an Astros game in the Astrodome. I will never forget getting your autograph at the Houston Astros baseball dinner, and being very disappointed, but understanding in hindsight, when you refused to personalize the autograph. I will never forget being at the game when you clinched a playoff spot for the first time in a long time that the Astros were going to the playoffs. And I will never forget seeing you and Jeff Bagwell race to each other after the last out was made. I will never forget rooting for you every at bat during those first few very frustrating playoff appearances. I will never forget the year that we finally beat the Braves. I will never forget the year that we finally clinched the NL and once again seeing you and Bagwell celebrate, though it was bittersweet because you were both in the dugout, when it really seemed like you should have both been on the field. I will never forget the 5 hit game you had to get to 3,000 hits (the night before I was leaving town for a week and would not have gotten to see any Astros games). I will never forget the grandslam you hit after announcing that you would retire. I will never forget your last game…

There are so many other memories. I just want to say thank you. I remember Charles Barkley saying that he was not a role model and I remember thinking, that what he was saying was probably true in some ways, but I remember wishing that people like him wanted to be or at least were willing to be role models. I think you were willing to be a role model. I think that is why you played the game the way you did, always hustling. I think that is why you always wore that little yellow sun on your hat during batting practice, to remind us of someone beside you, the children who you were in ministry with, the Sun Shine Kids. (Sorry if you don’t like the lable ministry, but as a pastor myself, it sure seems like ministry to me.)

As a pastor, I am all too aware of how often people try to put others up on a pedestal. I know I am not perfect, and I am sure that you aren’t perfect either. But in a time when people often watched baseball despite the obviously greedy and obnoxious athletes who were playing the game, thank you for never coming across to me as greedy or obnoxious. Thank you for sharing yourself with so many people like me who really don’t know you at all, but feel for some reason like we do.

So, this is my long winded way of saying thank you Craig Biggio for all the memories. In honor of your baseball career, today’s Friday Shout Out goes out to you. The microphone is yours if you would like to respond. (Also, if any of you out there would like to express your appreciation for Craig Biggio, feel free to do so.)