Houston, TX–“I retired because I wanted to be with my family and my kids and it was just time…I’m having so much fun being in their lives and being a dad again–full-time dad and not a rent-a-dad or part-time dad. I’m really having a good time with it.”–Future Hall-of-Famer Craig Biggio
AK, a reader, sent me this recent Houston Chronicle article on Craig Biggio (above left) and wrote “Craig Biggio retired this past year after 20 years with the Houston Astros. He is 42 and could have certainly played longer. So why did he retire? To spend time with his family.”
AK sounds like a bit of a Biggio fan–Biggio’s playing skills were in steep decline when he retired, though he certainly could have continued to play in a more limited role–backup infielder/outfielder, pinch hitter, maybe a platoon regular. In his day he was a fantastic and underrated player. I’m glad he’s enjoying full-time fatherhood now.
It reminds me a bit of Al Kaline (above right), the great Detroit Tigers outfielder of the 1950s and 1960s who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980. Kaline retired a little early, too, and said:
“I quit playing baseball because my son was getting ready to go to college and I hadn’t spent enough time with him. I wanted one summer with him before he went to college.”
The article is excerpted below.
Back on the field
Biggio could see himself staying in coaching profession
By BRIAN MCTAGGART
Houston Chronicle, 1/17/08
The coach roams around the baseball field with a piece of paper in his hand — a workout schedule for the day — while dozens of teenage boys sit in a pair of dugouts and await orders.
It’s the second day of baseball tryouts at St. Thomas High School, and a steady drizzle and cool temperatures do little to dampen the enthusiasm. Only once, when a passing student yells his name, is there any indication the coach under the visor has extraordinary credentials.
Craig Biggio tries to blend in with the rest of the coaching staff, which can be pretty difficult when you’ve amassed 3,060 hits in the major leagues, played in seven All-Star Games and have more doubles than any righthanded hitter in history.
Instead of dealing with the grind of a 162-game major league schedule and drawing a multi-million dollar salary, Biggio’s post-playing days have been filled volunteering as an assistant baseball and football coach at St. Thomas.
“They call me ‘coach Biggio,’ ” said Biggio, whose oldest son Conor is a freshman baseball and football player for the Eagles. “I really am enjoying it. I know I did the right thing in retiring when I did. It’s a great feeling.”
Biggio, 42, has been a fixture on the practice fields at the private Catholic school on Memorial Drive since October, shortly after his 20-year career with the Astros came to an end.
“This is a huge deal for us,” head baseball coach Ken Schulte said. “We thought we were getting a great kid, and in reality we wound up getting a heck of a coach, too.”
St. Thomas athletic director/head football coach Kurt Page approached Biggio a few days after the Astros’ season ended about helping coach the freshman football team. Schulte then recruited Biggio to help with baseball.
“I was happy to help out,” Biggio said. “I wasn’t sure how I was going to be accepted or they were going to accept me or how it was going to go, but for the 4 1/2 weeks of football that we did it, it was great. I loved it. They have a great bunch of kids over here at St. Thomas. They’re very respectful and just want to get better and want to play and work hard in school.”
Biggio’s participation in football wasn’t limited to practices. He worked the sidelines during freshman games, complete with a St. Thomas polo shirt and khaki pants like the rest of the coaches.
After initially being awed, the players grew accustomed to seeing Biggio around the field.
“The kids are just good kids, and after you meet them they’re just like, ‘Hey, you’re just like everybody else,’ ” he said. “It was really the whole adjustment process of them accepting me, and it didn’t take long at all.”
Craig Biggio, a regular guy? That’s something Conor knew all along.
“It’s not like, ‘Oh, my gosh, there’s Craig Biggio,’ ” said Conor, a defensive back/running back in football and — surprise! — second baseman in baseball. “He’s just doing the same thing as other coaches and treating everybody the same”…
“[Biggio] retired to be with his family, including Conor, 12-year-old son Cavan and 8-year-old daughter Quinn, all of whom are active in sports.
“There’s not much time, and hunting season has taken a (back seat) because of it,” Biggio said. “That is good, though. The deer are always going to be there and my kids aren’t. I retired because I wanted to be with my family and my kids and it was just time.
“This is the right thing to do, even though I can still play. I’m having so much fun being in their lives and being a dad again — full-time dad and not a rent-a-dad or part-time dad. I’m really having a good time with it”…
Read the full article and watch the video interview of Biggio here.