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Three of four Hall inductees have ties to New York

From left, National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees

From left, National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio and Pedro Martinez pose during a press conference, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, in New York. Credit: AP / Bebeto Matthews

On his first full day as a newly minted Hall of Famer, Craig Biggio took a moment to honor his roots.

"I remember where I came from," he said.

But the Kings Park native wasn't talking about geography. He was talking about the journey from Long Island football star to college baseball player at Seton Hall to minor leaguer to 3,000-hit man for the Houston Astros and finally one of baseball's immortals.

"I remember how hard it was to get there," Biggio said Wednesday at the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan as the Hall's Class of 2015 was introduced at a news conference. "All the hard work. I continued to work hard when I was there. Now, obviously, getting invited to the Hall of Fame, it's really pretty special."

Biggio has been more than invited to the Hall -- he's going to be a permanent resident. Well, at least his plaque will be when he and a trio of aces are enshrined in Cooperstown, New York, on July 26.

Biggio was elected in his third year on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot after missing last year by two votes. He will be joined by first-ballot Hall of Famers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz.

The Hall won't officially announce which caps the players will have on their plaques until later this year. Biggio, who only played for the Astros in his 20-year career, will obviously wear a Houston logo.

There's little intrigue with the other three. Smoltz spent all but one of his 21 seasons with the Atlanta Braves. Martinez pitched for five teams -- including the Mets -- but won 117 of his 219 games with the Boston Red Sox.

And there's little doubt Johnson will go in with an Arizona Diamondbacks logo on his cap. The Big Unit won four consecutive Cy Young Awards in the desert and was co-MVP of the thrilling 2001 World Series against the Yankees.

Since Wednesday's unveiling was held in New York, both Martinez's time with the Mets and Johnson's stint with the Yankees were discussed.

Johnson won 34 games over two seasons with the Yankees, but was not the overpowering ace of his past. His personality was as cranky as his back; he never seemed comfortable in New York and pitched his final season with a herniated disc before getting dealt back to the Diamondbacks. "It wasn't the exciting Randy that people had witnessed against the Yankees, maybe in my Seattle days or in 2001," Johnson said. "But I still gave everything that I had . . . I love New York."

Martinez said he truly loved New York as a hated visitor with the Red Sox. But he was often injured during his four seasons with the Mets (2005-08) and averaged only eight wins per season in Flushing.

"Obviously, Queens is a little bit different than the Yankees fans," he said. "In Queens, they're wild. They're happy. They settle for what they have. The Yankees' fans cannot. Win or nothing."

Biggio knows firsthand all about New York fans since he was one growing up. His favorite baseball player was former Yankees catcher Thurman Munson.

"I grew up not too far from here," Biggio said, "but I've been in Texas close to 30 years. That's my home. Those people have been great to me there. I love it there."

That's not to say Biggio doesn't remember Long Island, from his youth league coaches to his mentors from Kings Park.

And one other thing: that famous Long Island traffic.

"It was really hard to get off the Island," Biggio said.

But he did, and the road led all the way to Cooperstown.

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