Kings Park High School laments Craig Biggio's near miss in Hall of Fame vote

Houston Astros' Craig Biggio watches a scoreboard tribute

Houston Astros' Craig Biggio watches a scoreboard tribute before a game against the Atlanta Braves in his last baseball game. (Sept. 30, 2007) Photo Credit: AP

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Craig Biggio, who fell two votes shy of making the Baseball Hall of Fame, must wait at least another year. So will the Kings Park High School faithful, who were prepared to celebrate their former star becoming the first player from a Long Island school since Carl Yastrzemski to enter Cooperstown.

Biggio received 74.8 percent of the votes in his second year of eligibility -- 75 percent is required for election. He was 39 votes short last year. "I guess the Hall of Fame doesn't round up," Kings Park athletic director Dan Butler said ruefully yesterday. "We all think he should have been in last year. More [voters] felt that way this year so hopefully next year will be the year he finally gets in."

Biggio's competition in 2015 will include first-time candidates and multiple Cy Young Award winners Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez plus John Smoltz and Gary Sheffield.

Biggio tied Pie Traynor in 1947 and Nellie Fox in 1985 for the smallest margin not to make the Hall; both eventually got in. In a 20-year career with the Astros, Biggio had a .281 career batting average, 291 home runs, 3,060 hits, 414 stolen bases and 1,175 RBIs. He was a seven-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner.

Butler was ready to lead a Kings Park cheer if the votes added up. "A bunch of baseball guys, everyone, were gathered around computers and phones at 2 o'clock," he said. "It sure would have been a big outpouring of support had it been a positive result."

John Bogenschutz, an assistant coach when Biggio played at the school more than 30 years ago, said in a voice mail, "It's just tremendously perplexing that someone who respected the game and his teammates, work ethic and everything is left off and missed by two ballots. It's very disheartening."

Biggio, who has been back to the high school over the years, issued a statement through the Astros: "Congratulations to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas. Obviously, I'm disappointed to come that close. I feel for my family, the organization and the fans. Hopefully, next year."

Before the vote, Biggio spoke in a Houston radio interview about the difficulty of making the Hall, saying, "I had three generations of guys I competed with and my generation was really, really talented. There are so many deserving candidates. It's hard and it's a different process so it'll be interesting."

Biggio's sons, who play on Notre Dame's college baseball team, supported their father on Twitter. "Third time is the charm," Conor tweeted. "Still a Hall of Fame dad," Cavan wrote.

John Rottkamp, Biggio's high school coach, said he had prepared his former player for the vote, writing to him in an email, "You've got to face Maddux and Glavine one more time." He added yesterday, "Geez. You gotta be disappointed. There's nobody who has 3,000 hits who isn't in the Hall of Fame. He's got the numbers to go in."

Mike Luzim, 31, the current baseball coach at Kings Park, said, "I'm always hearing stories how good Craig Biggio was. I did a little research myself and found he got more doubles [668] than Babe Ruth [506]. Some of the stats are unbelievable."

Glavine, who praised Biggio's competitiveness over the course of their long careers, said, "As surprised as I was for Craig last year having not gotten in, you almost feel heartbroken for him this year as close as he was. Craig was a tremendous competitor, a guy that all of us that played against respected from the standpoint not only was he a good player, but you knew you were going to get everything you had out of him on any given night and any given at-bat."

With David Lennon

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