COOPERSTOWN -- People in Craig Biggio's new digs, the Baseball Hall of Fame, have the same impression and same high opinion of him as do the people in his first home, Long Island.
Like his neighbors in Kings Park and high school baseball and football opponents in Suffolk County, Hall of Famers look at Biggio and see someone who had a lot to give and who gave it all.
"Making the transition from catcher to middle infielder and having the success that he did, that's a lot of versatility," Ozzie Smith said of the man who on Sunday will become the second Long Islander ever inducted into the Hall (following Bridgehampton's Carl Yastrzemski). "Sometimes that's what it takes to remain in the big leagues. He certainly was able to do it and do it well. He did it well enough to get into the Hall of Fame."
George Brett, who, like Smith, played in the Hall of Famers golf tournament Saturday morning, said, "Craig Biggio: a guy I've always admired. He came up as a catcher, moved to second, moved to center, was great at all three. A 3,000 hit guy, I'm very happy to see him get his due."
Rod Carew, who, like Biggio, played much of his Hall of Fame career as a second baseman, said, "Besides being a great player, he was a great kid. He went out and played hard every single day, playing a couple different positions. He was persistent, he could play the game the way it was meant to be played."
Greg Maddux spoke of facing Biggio's Astros: "He led off for them. You had to get him out because after him, the boys were coming up. The Killer Bs and all that stuff, it all started with Biggio. He was a complete player, he had power and he could steal a base. In order to beat the Astros, you had to get him out first and go from there."
Smith, the great shortstop, summed it up; "I think he has 292 home runs or something. So he's much more than what we would call a [punch and] Judy. He hit for power, he hit for average. If there was one thing you could say, he didn't have the greatest throwing arm but playing second base there, he was scrappy enough to make it happen. Very versatile player and very deserving of being in the Hall of Fame. He was just a hard-nosed player. He played hard every day, he ran the ball out. There's nothing bad to say about the way he went about it."