Biggio gets to 3,000 in style

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HOUSTON - Craig Biggio was exhausted and ready to talk about his latest accomplishment. He still had some time for an old friend, though.

<B>ASTRO-NOMICAL FEAT</B><br>Houston's Craig Biggio became the ninth player in major league history to collect 3,000 hits with one team. The last to do so were Baltimore's Cal Ripken Jr., and San Diego's Tony Gwynn back in 2001.  Associated Press
Associated Press
ASTRO-NOMICAL FEAT
Houston's Craig Biggio became the ninth player in major league history to collect 3,000 hits with one team. The last to do so were Baltimore's Cal Ripken Jr., and San Diego's Tony Gwynn back in 2001.

"Hey Frankie, how you doing," he said nodding to a slight teenager with a mop of dark hair.

Biggio joined the 3,000 hit club and Carlos Lee hit a grand slam in the 11th inning as the Houston Astros beat the Colorado Rockies 8-5 on Thursday night.

Biggio met the 15-year-old Frankie Velasquez through his work with The Sunshine Kids Foundation, an organization which helps children with cancer, when Velasquez was 6 and has kept in touch with him since.

"He's one of a kind," Velasquez said. "He's done so much for us Sunshine Kids and I'll always be grateful to him. Seeing this happen was a once in a lifetime experience."

Biggio became the first player to reach 3,000 in a five-hit game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. George Brett (1992) and Tony Gwynn (1999) had four hits when they reached 3,000.

"I think it was the way it was supposed to be done," Biggio said as he choked back tears. "To have it happen here - that was a special atmosphere that was out there today."

Biggio became the 27th player to reach the mark with his single to center in the seventh inning. The second baseman was thrown out trying to stretch the play into a double on his third hit of the night, which tied the game at 1.

"I couldn't have scripted it any better," Biggio said. "There are a lot of things that have happened over the past 20 years but tonight is the best."

Biggio is the first player to reach 3,000 hits since Rafael Palmeiro on July 15, 2005, with Baltimore. He passed Roberto Clemente for 26th on the career list with his fourth hit, a ninth-inning single.

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.

Fireworks went off, the counter in left-center field with red illuminated numbers ticked to 3,000 and a giant banner with his picture and "3,000" that spanned from the train track to the roof of the stadium was unveiled after the hit.

He dragged Jeff Bagwell, a teammate for 15 seasons, onto the field after reaching the mark. After all the two went through together, he wanted to share the moment with him.

"I'm just so proud of him," Bagwell said.

Sources: associated press; astros.mlb.com


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