Kings Park High School product Craig Biggio could become a Hall of Famer on Wednesday
The Kings Park High School community already knows Craig Biggio as "The Local Boy Who Made Good."
Later this week, Biggio could become "The Local Boy Who Made the Hall of Fame."
Biggio, the Smithtown native who amassed 3,060 hits in his 20-year career with the Houston Astros, is a first-timer on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. Results of the voting by 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America will be announced on Wednesday.
If elected to the Hall, he would join Bridgehampton's Carl Yastrzemski, a fellow member of the 3,000 Hit Club who was elected in his first year of eligibility after a legendary career with the Red Sox from 1961-83. He had 3,419 hits, including 452 home runs.
Biggio's standout career "is something that the community takes great pride in," said Kings Park athletic director Dan Butler, whose baseball team plays its games on Craig Biggio Field.
And if Biggio makes the Hall of Fame?"It's something that we can point to as adults to the young people," Butler said. "With hard work and dedication, anything really is possible. It's something that radiates throughout the program, that this was one of our own who went on to great things."
Biggio is one of 24 former players in their first year of Hall of Fame eligibility. The first-timers are headlined by Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa, all of whom have been tainted by allegations of performance-enhancing drug use.
If past voting for PED-tainted All-Stars is any guide, none of them will get in this year. Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro haven't gotten close to induction because of their PED-tainted resumes. Both still are on the ballot.
Also among the 13 holdovers are pitcher Jack Morris, who fell 48 votes short of election in 2012, plus former Yankees stars Don Mattingly and Bernie Williams.
Along with Biggio, former Mets catcher Mike Piazza is a first-timer, as is two-time World Series champion Curt Schilling.
Biggio already is a member of an elite club: In 2007, his final season in the big leagues, he became the 27th player to get 3,000 hits. Only three players who have reached the 3,000-hit mark are not in the Hall of Fame: Palmeiro, all-time hit king Pete Rose (who is ineligible after being banned for gambling on baseball) and Derek Jeter, who became the 28th player to get 3,000 hits in 2011 and will be eligible for enshrinement five years after his retirement.
A player has to be named on 75 percent of the ballots to get in. It's not clear if Biggio will make the cut in his first year of eligibility because he was never seen as a dominant player. His value came in his longevity, his steadiness and his unique ability to switch positions. Biggio started as a catcher, moved to second base, then went to the outfield before returning to second for his final seasons.
Overall, Biggio hit .281 with 1,844 runs scored (15th all-time), 668 doubles (fifth all-time), 291 home runs and 414 stolen bases. He was hit by a pitch 285 times (second all-time), was a seven-time All-Star and won five Silver Slugger Awards (one at catcher and four at second base) and four Gold Glove Awards at second base (1994-97).
All this from a player who also was a football standout at Kings Park. Biggio, a running back, won the Hansen Award in 1983 as the best football player in Suffolk County.
Biggio got a partial scholarship to play baseball at Seton Hall University and was taken by the Astros with the 22nd pick of the 1987 draft. He made the majors in only one year, playing 50 games in 1988, and spent 20 seasons with the Astros. He still lives in Houston and is the baseball coach at St. Thomas High School.
Still, Biggio's roots reach back to Kings Park. Physical education teacher Duke Durland, who was a classmate of Biggio's at Kings Park and was the varsity baseball coach from 2002-07, remembers Biggio getting tickets for the junior varsity and varsity teams at Shea Stadium for an Astros-Mets game and then meeting with the players.
"That doesn't happen to these kids very often: a major-league All-Star, a potential Hall of Famer, talks to these guys," Durland said.
Asked how often Biggio's name is mentioned to the student-athletes at Kings Park, Durland said: "We bring it up a lot. He's done a lot for the school in return that a lot of people don't know about. Just because he doesn't want a lot of people to know about it. But also the way he played the game. He played the game the right way, kind of like Derek Jeter. Those guys that you can point to right away and say, 'This is how you're supposed to play the game.' "