... I had been married for a year and a half, was the advertising director for the Plainview Daily Herald, and had no way to keep up with my Astros at all, so I didn't know any of this:
Nineteen years ago today, Craig Biggio took a red-eye flight from Tucson and walked into the Astrodome for the first time on almost no sleep. Clubhouse man Dennis Liborio found him a place to nap. He might have slept 10 minutes. Regardless, manager Hal Lanier woke him up and asked: ''Can you play?''
''Yes,'' Biggio said.
He caught Jim Deshaises that night, didn't get a hit but threw out two base runners. He didn't play much after that for awhile, and was sent back to the minors briefly when Alan Ashby returned from the disabled list. But that was the beginning for Craig Biggio.
He got his first hit off Orel Hershiser, a line-drive single. ''No break from the official scorer,'' he said. He got his first home run off Goose Gossage, a game-winner.
''I'm like, 'Yes!''' he remembered
Those early months are still etched in his mind, especially those days in the bullpen when he'd sit and listen to Danny Darwin, Dave Smith, etc., tell their stories. This week, the memories have come rushing back. Small things like how Nolan Ryan would bring fried pies from Alvin on the days he pitched. He remembered Glenn Davis would hoard pies to take home.
He smiled the other day recalling the day Alex Trevino failed to tag the runner after a Nolan Ryan strikeout bounced in the dirt. He simply rolled the ball back to the mound and headed for the dugout as the runner took off to first.
''Nolan was one angry Texan,'' Biggio said.
There was the day Doug Harvey told him a pitch caught the plate by "an eighth of an inch.'' He has remembered countless acts of kindness by John McMullen and the emptiness he felt at Ken Caminiti's passing.
We're left with a sorry ballclub that needs reconstructive surgery, but those are stories for another day. This week belongs to Craig Biggio.
As I finished this post, Biggio slapped #2,998 to left field. History to be made for the little catcher/second baseman and the franchise, maybe later tonight.