DENVER -- Craig Biggio capped his sweat-stained career with
one more cherished honor.
The longtime Houston Astros star won the 2007 Roberto Clemente
Award, given annually to a major league player who combines
community service with excellence on the field.
He was picked from among 30 nominees, one from
each big league team, by a committee that included commissioner Bud
Selig and Vera Clemente, Roberto's widow.
"I'm very humbled and grateful for this honor and to be part of
his legacy,'' Biggio said. "I think the biggest part about Roberto
is, as great of a player as he was, he was a bigger man off the
field in his generosity and his time and giving back to the
The 41-year-old second baseman retired after this season, his
20th in the major leagues -- all with Houston. He became the 27th
player to reach 3,000 hits on June 28.
Asked about winning such a prestigious award in his final
season, Biggio left the whole room laughing.
"I guess it was our last chance,'' he said. "So thank you.''
Known for his gritty play at several positions, Biggio also is
the national spokesman for the Sunshine Kids Foundation, which
provides support and fun activities for young cancer patients. He
visits the Sunshine Kids house regularly and often wore the
organization's pin on his Astros cap.
"The Sunshine Kids are near and dear to my heart and they're
one of the reasons that I stayed there and never left as a free
agent,'' Biggio said. "We're not about a cure. We're about
families, we're about putting smiles on faces.''
Biggio has hosted a yearly baseball party at Minute Maid Park
for more than 100 kids with cancer, along with a celebrity golf
tournament that has raised more than $2.5 million for the Sunshine
Kids Foundation the past 15 years.
He's also participated in
several other community service programs with the Astros.
Selig, Vera Clemente and everyone else sitting next to the
podium wore a bright yellow Sunshine Kids pin on their lapel.
Biggio's wife, Patty, and one of his sons, Conor, also were on hand
for the presentation, along with Astros owner Drayton McLane and
his wife, Elizabeth.
"This is a huge day for the Houston Astros family,'' Biggio
The seven-time All-Star began his career as a catcher before
switching to second base, where he won four Gold Gloves from
1994-97. He later moved to the outfield, then finished his career
back at second.
Biggio helped the Astros reach their only World Series in 2005,
when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox. He finished his
career with 3,060 hits, 1,844 runs scored and 291 homers. His 668
doubles rank fifth on the career list, numbers that seem likely to
earn him a spot in the Hall of Fame.
"One of the game's most consistent and versatile players,''
Selig said. "I hope all the young players in this sport will watch
and follow this man's career because he is what a major league
baseball player should be.''
Biggio joins a list of previous Roberto Clemente Award winners
that includes 13 Hall of Famers, such as Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken Jr.
and Rod Carew. New York Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado won the
award last year.
Clemente was a Hall of Fame right fielder with the Pittsburgh
Pirates. He died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve 1972 while
trying to deliver relief supplies to earthquake victims in
Nicaragua. He finished his career with exactly 3,000 hits.