I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to post this earlier, since we had some server issues here at MLBlogs, but here it is:

Franchise icon is in his 20th season with the Astros

HOUSTON, TX ? In a press conference held this afternoon at Minute Maid Park, longtime Houston Astro Craig Biggio announced his retirement, effective at the end of the 2007 season.

The 2007 season is Biggio?s franchise-record 20th with the club, as he made his Major League debut on June 26, 1988.  In 2,798 career games, all with the Astros, Biggio has hit .282 (3,014×10,699) with 286 home runs and 1,156 runs batted in.  The career franchise leader in hits, he reached the 3,000-hit plateau with a 5-for-6 performance on June 28 of this year vs. the Colorado Rockies.  He ranks 24th all-time with 3,014 career hits.

The 41-year-old Biggio is also the Houston franchise career leader in games played, at-bats, runs scored, doubles, extra-base hits, and total bases.  On July 2, Craig Biggio became the 27th player all-time to reach the 1,000-extra-base hit plateau with a first-inning double.  Biggio is also the 13th player all-time with at least 3,000 hits and 1,000 extra-base hits and one of only two middle infielders on that list (Cal Ripken, Jr).

Biggio also ranks sixth on the Major League career list with 661 career doubles.   His 661 doubles are the most for any right-handed hitter in history, and Biggio is also the only player in MLB history to reach all of the following milestones: 600 doubles (661), 250 home runs (286), 2,700 hits (3,014), and 400 stolen bases (413).

Biggio was in the Opening Day lineup for a franchise-record 19 consecutive years from 1989-2007, and his seven selections to the NL All-Star squad are the most in Astros team history.  In 1992, he became the first player to make the All-Star team at both catcher (1991) and second base (1992).  Biggio received five NL Silver Slugger Awards (catcher ? 1989; second base-1994-95, 1997-98) and earned Rawlings Gold Glove Awards in four consecutive seasons from 1994-97.

Biggio has also spent the majority of his career taking an active role in the Sunshine Kids Organization, raising almost $2.5 million for the organization through the Sunshine Kids Celebrity Golf Classic.  He was the winner of the 1997 Branch Rickey Award, presented annually by the Rotary Club of Denver and the MLB Players Alumni to the player, manager, or executive who unselfishly contributes to the community.  Biggio also received the 2005 Hutch Award, given annually by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.  The award is presented in honor of the late ballplayer Fred Hutchinson, who died of cancer at the age of 45, to a Major League Baseball player who ?best exemplifies Hutch?s fighting spirit and competitive desire.?

In 1998,  Biggio helped lead the club to the second of three consecutive NL Central titles, hitting a career-best .325 with 51 doubles, 20 home runs, 88 RBI, and 50 stolen bases, joining Hall of Famer Tris Speaker as the only players in the 20th century to collect 50 doubles and 50 steals in the same season.  Biggio followed that campaign with 56 doubles in 1999, becoming the sixth player in Major League history with consecutive 50-double seasons.  Additionally, Biggio holds the modern record (since 1900) for times hit by a pitch with 285.

The Astros have made six postseason appearances during Biggio?s career, including NL Central Division Championships four times (1997-98-99-2001) and consecutive NL Wild Card berths in 2004 and 2005.  The 2005 Astros won the franchise?s first NL Championship and advanced to the World Series, where Biggio became the player with the most career games (2,564) before appearing in his first Fall Classic.  During that 2005 postseason, Biggio led all players with 18 hits and 11 runs scored while hitting .295 (18×61).

Additionally, Biggio holds the National League record with 51 career leadoff home runs and ranks second all-time in the category, trailing only Rickey Henderson (81).

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