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Biggio shares moment with Bagwell

Biggio shares moment with Bagwell

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HOUSTON -- As Jeff Bagwell raced from general manager Tim Purpura's booth down to the dugout Thursday night, he felt tears well up in his eyes.

Bagwell knew what 3,000 hits meant to Craig Biggio, having witnessed most of those in person as Biggio's partner in crime on the right side of the infield. Bagwell, who took a two-day hiatus from his golfing excursion in Colorado in order to be there for the big event, couldn't wait to get to the dugout to give his longtime friend and teammate a congratulatory wave, and perhaps a quick hug.

But Biggio, already in tears after being mobbed by his teammates and engulfed by hugs and kisses from his wife and three kids, had more in mind for Bagwell at this moment. Much, much more.

Biggio has never shaken the void he's felt ever since Bagwell left the game. He's never quite gotten over Bagwell's career ending the way it did. An argument could be made that Biggio took Bagwell's retirement harder than Bagwell himself.

On Thursday, Biggio knew just how to bring closure to a chapter left unfinished.

Biggio was determined to be on the field with Bagwell, one last time, even if it was in a symbolic manner. This gesture was as much for himself as for the fans who Biggio feels never had the opportunity to say the proper goodbye to the beloved first baseman.

Never mind that Bagwell wasn't in uniform, or that his crisp blue shirt and designer jeans didn't match Biggio's Astros attire. No one -- certainly none of the 42,537 screaming fans at Minute Maid Park -- could have predicted that Biggio would pull Bagwell onto the field to share the glory of the moment.

This night was about Biggio. But Biggio knows better than anyone that his legacy is firmly tied to Bagwell.

"The fans didn't have an opportunity to say goodbye to Baggy, not between the lines, at least," Biggio said. "I felt we made such commitments and sacrifice that I wanted him between the lines."

Throughout their careers, Biggio explained, he and Bagwell never stepped back onto the field after a game was over. When they won, the team would go through its line of high-fives, but Bagwell and Biggio stayed on the right side of the first-base line and greeted their teammates there.

On this night, Biggio wanted Bagwell with him, one last time, on the very infield grass where they made so much history together.

"I wanted him on the field, between the lines, one more time with me, to really let the fans say goodbye, say hello, say thank you for so many things," Biggio said. "To me, that was what it was all about. He deserved it. I guess I deserved it in a way. I really just wanted him to be out there one more time with me."

Bagwell, in typically humble fashion, smiled sheepishly while recounting that moment.

"It was terrible for me," he chuckled. "But it was great. It was a great gesture on Bidge's part. He just wanted to be back out on the field with me. But this is all about him.

"I've been there for a lot of those hits. But this is his night, his moment. I can't think of a better night. I just want everybody to appreciate the person he is off the field and the player he is on the field."

Bagwell equated the pride he felt on this night to his emotions the night Darryl Kile threw his no-hitter in 1993.

"It's the joy you feel for a person and what they have accomplished," he said. "I'm proud to be associated with him during the years we played together.

"This is a big deal. This isn't just another step past somebody. Three thousand hits is a big number in our game. To be able to do those kind of things is special."

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

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