Not many players are afforded the express lane to Cooperstown with admission in the first year of eligibility, so former Astros star and Kings Park High School alumnus Craig Biggio didn't sound all that disheartened about falling short of being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

"When you look at the Hall of Fame, that's what makes baseball pretty special, pretty unbelievable," Biggio said Thursday during a news conference in Houston. "We're not letting six guys in every year. You had a list of a lot of guys that were very qualified and nobody was let in. It just says a lot about how special that building really is."

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Biggio, who had 3,060 hits in a 20-year career with the Astros, appeared on 68.2 percent of the ballots -- more than any other candidate -- but fell 39 votes shy of the required 75 percent for election. "We got a 68, and I'm going to go back and study a little harder and hopefully get a 75 next year," Biggio joked. "Was I disappointed? I don't know. I'm pretty close when you look at the numbers."

Biggio was asked if his candidacy was impacted by others on the ballot who were suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs.

"I can't get in the minds of the writers, but it's a possibility that that could have definitely been part of the deal," he said. "I think it's kind of unfair, but it's the reality of the era that we played in. Obviously, some guys are guilty and others aren't, and it's painful for the ones that weren't . . . All I know is that I went out there and played the game and I loved the game and I went out there to win, and we have a lot of flags on that wall out there that represent that, and that's really the most important thing to me."

Biggio said he would have voted for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, first-time nominees who garnered lukewarm support because their names have been linked to performance-enhancing drugs.

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"Barry Bonds was the greatest hitter that I've ever played against . . . and Roger was one of the greatest pitchers of all time," Biggio said. "I would have, yes, I think those guys are Hall of Fame players. Barry and Roger, their numbers speak for themselves, and what they did on a baseball field speaks for itself." With AP