He is kept hopping as assistant to the general manager of the Houston Astros, head baseball coach at St. Thomas in Houston and as a husband and father of three.
But Biggio knows where he will be the second Tuesday of 2013.
“They tell me I have to be home Jan. 8,” says the man who played all 20 of his Major League Baseball seasons in an Astros uniform and collected 3,060 hits, including 1,014 for extra bases and hopes to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first time on the ballot. “The resume speaks for itself. It’s pretty good. You just cross your fingers and hope the writers felt the same way.”
Biggio spoke at Society for American Baseball Research meeting Sunday at Notre Dame.
The right-handed hitter is the National League leader in lead-off home runs (53) and interleague hits (201). Biggio also ranks as the modern-day record holder for being hit by a pitch with 285.
Among the other players on the ballot for the first time are Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, Kenny Lofton and Sandy Alomar Jr. Besides Bagwell, some of the holdovers from 2012 are Jack Morris, Lee Smith, Tim Raines and Alan Trammel.
“For my family, it would be really great (to go into the Hall of Fame),” said Biggio, who retired at the end of the 2007 season at age 41. “But, for the fans, it would be unbelievable. They deserve to have a guy there.”
Biggio – he of the grimy batting helmet – could be the first player with a Astro cap on his Cooperstown plaque or he could share the honor with fellow “Killer B” Jeff Bagwell, who is on the ballot for the third time.
How cool would it be to be inducted the same year as fellow grinder Bagwell?
“It would be really cool,” said Bagwell. “Baggy is a special friend and teammate. We both grew up on the East Coast. We both made some money along the way, but it was not about that, it was about playing the game.”
Biggio, a Long Island, N.Y., product, was an All-American catcher at New Jersey’s Seton Hall University. He was drafted by Houston in 1987 and soon found himself transplanted in the Lone Star State, making his big league debut midway through the 1988 season after 141 games in the minors.
Getting an education from veterans like Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, Bill Doran, Ken Caminiti and Terry Puhl, Biggio played four seasons behind the dish, earning an All-Star Game selection in 1991.
Biggio enjoyed having an impact on a game by handling a pitching staff and throwing out baserunners.
“I liked the physicality of catching,” said Biggio, the former high school All-America football player who grew up as fan of Thurman Munson and Walter Payton. “I really enjoyed it and I started to get good at it. If I would have played another position, I probably would not have been in the big leagues as quickly as I was.”
But a funny thing happened before the 1992 season. Manager Art Howe approached Biggio about switching to second base in an effort to use his speed and save the wear and tear on his 5-foot-11, 180-pound frame.
At the time, such a conversion was very unique and Biggio use all the naysayers to fuel his desire to learn to be a second sacker and excel at it. He spent hour after hour on spring training fields with Astros coach Matt Galante – without a glove.
“We took away my glove and gave me a flat paddle,” said Biggio. “The paddle taught you how to center everything in the middle of my body and move to the ball and catch the ball properly. It taught you how to develop soft hands.”
While Biggio became an All-Star second baseman in his first year in the infield (1992), he said it took him a good two years to really adapt to the position where he would earn four Gold Glove awards.
“A ball is hit down the line, where do you need to be?,” said Biggio. “There’s a guy on first and ball is hit in the gap, where do you need to be? You’ve got to get into double play position. The shortstop is giving you signs. There’s so many things that go on that the average fan has no idea about. For the first year, I had a headache and a half everyday.”
When the Astros acquired Jeff Kent to play second base, Biggio moved to the outfield, playing center field in 2003 and splitting time between center and left field in 2004. He moved over when Houston picked up Carlos Beltran to roam center field.
“I liked (the outfield) because it was another challenge and (the move) made (the Astros) better,” said Biggio, who moved back to second base for the final three seasons of his career.
At the plate, Biggio “owned” Orel Hershiser (.410; 25-of-61) and Fernando Valenzuela (.387; 12-of-31) but could not do much at all with Kevin Gross (.071; 3-of-42).
Loyalty and commitment kept Biggio in Houston for his whole career.
He turned down other suitors, including the big-market New York Yankees, for a chance to get a World Series trophy in mid-sized Astros.
“That’s why winning in Houston was really, really special,” said Biggio. “It’s so hard to do.”
The Astros were swept by to the Chicago White Sox with two one-run and two two-run games in 2005 while Biggio led all MLB players with 18 hits in the playoffs.
Biggio also preferred to keep wife Patty and sons Conor (now a Notre Dame baseball player), Cavan (who just signed with ND) and daughter Quinn (a volleyball and softball standout) in the same place.
“The family did not have to get uprooted,” said Biggio. “It made us a stronger and better family because of it.
“The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. People think it is better to go somewhere else and get more money, but it’s not that easy. Look at how many times guys because free agents and go somewhere else and that first year they really have a hard time.”
Biggio knows what it’s like to get hit with a hard pitch.
To enhance into his strength (middle-in) and reduce his weakness (low and away), Biggio stood very close to the plate and got plunked a aplenty for it.
As a lead-off hitter trying to get on base to be driven home, Biggio was willing to pay that price. At first, he wore not protection on his left arm. But after being hit between the elbow and triceps, he began to don the armor.
“I learned how to use it to get on base and then pitchers really got mad,” said Biggio, who prided himself on being a table-setter but also had 1,175 runs batted in himself playing in the National League where “you’re dealing with the pitcher and a catcher who can’t run.”
Some of the inside pitches struck Biggio in the head, including a particularly scary heater from Chicago Cubs hurler Jeremi Gonzalez in 1997.
“I was lucky,” said Biggio, whose only stints on the disabled list were related to knee injuries and not being struck by a pitch.
Biggio looks at today’s players and sees a talent pool deeper than ever.
“The kids nowadays are so much better than my generation,” said Biggio. “They can run and throw and it and do it all now. But it’s so hard to stick and stay. The big joke is that you are a prospect when you get there, and after Day 1, you are a suspect.”
Biggio was able to stick and stay for two decades. His next stop just might be Cooperstown.