Biggio sets hit-by-pitch record

Biggio sets hit-by-pitch record

DENVER -- For some reason, interesting things happen to Craig Biggio when he's in Colorado.

Three years ago at Coors Field, he became the fifth player in Houston Astros club history to hit for the cycle. He entered the Astros' recent series in Denver with a .398 average at the Rockies' ballpark. And on Wednesday, he was hit by a Byung-Hyun Kim pitch on his left elbow to become the all-time modern-era leader in plunkings with 268.

Biggio passed Don Baylor, who was hit 267 times during his 19-year career from 1970-88.

"Don Baylor was manager here and I respect Don," said Biggio, who toyed with the idea of signing with the Rockies as a free agent in 1995. "I almost played for him one year. It was nice to be able to get it done here."

Biggio tied the record a day earlier, but the "celebration" was dulled by the Astros' 6-5 loss. On Wednesday, the mood was a lot more jovial because the Astros won, 7-1.

"Everything's always better when you win," Biggio said. "Yesterday, I was able to tie Donnie, but it was a loss, and a tough loss. Whether you get hit or not, when you win games, they always feel better."

Biggio received some congratulatory pats on the back from his teammates when he returned to the dugout following the plunking, and the second baseman acknowledged the polite "golf claps" he heard from a handful of the 23,494 Rockies fans who seemed to appreciate the milestone.

Roger Clemens greeted Biggio with a big hug, at which time Biggio reminded the Rocket that he had the "honor" of plunking him one time, even if it didn't count, officially.

Apparently, Clemens hit Biggio with a pitch during the 1998 All-Star Game, which coincidentally, was played at Coors Field.

"I struck out three times in front of 800 million people, and then he nicked me on my arm," Biggio recalled. "If he didn't, he would have struck me out four times."

The next order of business is the Hall of Fame, which has asked for Biggio's arm pad. Biggio is more than happy to oblige.

"If they want the ball too, they can have it," he said. "If not, I'll give it to one of my kids."

By the numbers:
202:Different pitchers who have hit Biggio in his career.
20:Times Biggio has been hit by a pitch twice in one game.
12:Pitchers who have hit Biggio twice in one game. Pedro Astacio did it on two occassions.
95:Runs Biggio has scored after being hit by a pitch. (Elias Sports Bureau)
2:Sets of brothers who have hit Biggio with a pitch: Andy and Alan Benes, Al and Mark Leiter
16:Years ago Biggio was plunked for the first time: April 22, 1989

Asked if holding a hit-by-pitch record was a sign of fearlessness, Biggio responded, "fearlessness, stupidity, however you want to say it.

"I credit a lot of it from my catching days. When you're catching, you get beat up ... you just learn how to deal with it and move on. Getting hit by a pitch is the same thing. You get hit, get over the pain, move on and focus on your next at-bat."

Biggio has scored 95 times after being hit by a pitch for a 35 percent success rate. It's somewhat fitting that Biggio broke the record in Denver. He's been plunked by the Rockies 32 times, more than any other team. The next closest are the Cardinals, who have hit Biggio 24 times.

His unintentional pursuit of the hit-by-pitch record has garnered a heap of national attention in the last few weeks. There is even a web site entitled PlunkBiggio.blogspot.com which chronicles every game Biggio plays and whether or not he's plunked.

Although it took Biggio 17-plus years to break Baylor's record, it took him no time at all to set an Astros mark for the most hit-by-pitches. He took over the lead in that category in 1995 when he was plunked for just the 48th time. Before that, Glenn Davis was the all-time Astros leader with 47.

Considering Biggio has been hit 268 times, has 244 home runs and 404 stolen bases, it's somewhat surprising that Wednesday marked only the second time in his career that he has been plunked, stolen a base and hit a homer all in the same game.

"When you get hit by a pitch, it's not like you can go up there your next at-bat and go, 'I'm really going to take it out on him,'" Biggio said. "When you do that, 99 percent of the time you make an out. You've got to control your emotions in this game."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.