COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — The videotape of Jeff Bagwell’s first home run — and, yes, back in 1991, it still was tape — shows Craig Biggio, wearing catcher’s shinguards, among the first to congratulate him. Biggio got to see just about everything Bagwell did in his 15-year career with the Astros. Sunday, he will be there again, congratulating him for joining the Hall of Fame.
The players known as the Killer B’s played more games as teammates than any other duo in major-league history, edging the Cubs’ Ron Santo and Billy Williams, 2,020 to 2,012. So, it was fitting historically that they should end up together in Cooperstown. Bagwell, the first baseman, was in the audience when Biggio, converted to second base from catching, was inducted two years ago. Biggio will be on stage with the rest of the Hall of Famers for Bagwell’s ceremony.
Biggio has not offered much advice, Bagwell said, other than, “Just enjoy it, and it goes quick. So take everything in.” That was fine because the two never had to say a whole lot to communicate. They and their families became close friends off the field and the two infielders were an entry on the field.
“I don’t think we challenged each other, I just think we worked really well together,” Biggio said Saturday. “For two guys to play 15 years together, he understood me as well as I understood him. I was the guy setting the table, he was the guy driving us in. He knew when to take pitches in order for you to steal and get in scoring position.”
The former second baseman still is amazed and thrilled that two East Coast guys — Bagwell from Connecticut, Biggio from Kings Park — could be such fixtures in Houston. Bagwell said, “For me, I can’t think of a better guy to be associated with than Craig Biggio. And, you know, we played side by side for 15 years [with] ups and downs and great times, some disappointments, a little bit of everything.”
In his speech Sunday, Bagwell will reflect on being one of those proverbial prospects dealt (by the Red Sox in 1990) for a veteran pitcher. He will speak of switching positions, which was a no-brainer because he had these options: “Playing third base in Triple A or first base in the majors.”
“I don’t have any ‘what-ifs.’ I am truly, truly blessed and humbled that I was able to play 15 years in the major leagues,” Bagwell said. “Even with my [injured] shoulder. The last three years were very, very tough on me mentally. But I got it done.”
He is proud to say he didn’t do it alone.