Every little boy who has ever swung a baseball bat in the back yard has dreamed of smacking a game-winning hit in a big game. And every father who has watched his son swing that same bat in the back yard has had a dream of watching him come through in a big spot.
Brothers Conor Biggio
and Cavan Biggio
, and their father, Craig Biggio, can now cross those items off their bucket lists.
Conor's walk-off single against Argyle Liberty Christian on May 12 catapulted St. Thomas Catholic (Houston)
to the state championship game. The very next night, Cavan's homer in the bottom of the third inning proved to be the game-winning hit as the Eagles won the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Class 5A state title with a 4-3 victory over Bishop Lynch. It was the school's second straight state title and 22nd overall.
What doesn't happen for most fathers in that special dream is the opportunity to be the first one to reach out and shake his son's hand during that special moment. But as the third-year manager of the Eagles, that's exactly what Craig did.
"It was really cool," Cavan said. "At first it felt just like a regular home run and then I realized I hit a homer in the state championship game; and then to shake my dad's hand … it was just really special."
The coach's name probably rings a bell.
Craig played in the Major Leagues for 20 years with the Houston Astros, compiling 3,060 hits and earning four gold gloves. He retired at the end of the 2007 season to spend more time with his family and since then has served as a special assistant to Astros general manager Ed Wade. The seven-time all-star says he had no intention of coaching his sons' high school team, but when the opportunity came up he just couldn't resist.
"I retired for my oldest guy (Conor) because he's the one that took the biggest hit with me never being around," said Craig, who led the Eagles to a 26-12 record playing what he called one of the toughest schedules in Texas. "I could have played for a couple more years but that would have been selfish. I wanted to make sure Conor worked out the proper way and could make himself better. If it didn't work out then it didn't work out. But I didn't want to be the reason he didn't succeed. He put in the extra time and made himself into a nice little baseball player."
Craig compares his oldest son to himself, saying he possesses the same speed and athletic ability. The center fielder says that it was one particular piece of advice from his father that helped him fulfill a dream he's had since he was 10 years old.
"When I was younger I was small and a late bloomer as a baseball player," said Conor, who batted .356 this season and has committed to play at Notre Dame. "Not until freshman year did I grow up and have confidence. It was then that my father told me, ‘Don't be in my shadow, be your own person. Don't be Craig, be Conor.'
"I've wanted to go to Notre Dame since I was 10. When I was growing up all my friends and I followed a college football team. My dad went to Seton Hall, and they had no team. My grandfather was a big Notre Dame fan so that became my team. Playing for Notre Dame is a dream come true."
Craig says his younger son plays more like his former teammate Jeff Bagwell, hitting with patience and power at the plate. It's a lofty comparison to live up to, but one Cavan is not only proud of, but used to after being compared to a big-league player all his life.
"When I was little all the other kids would come and watch me play because I had the name Biggio on the back of my uniform," said the Eagles' cleanup hitter, who finished with a .393 average, including seven homers and 46 RBIs. "Kids thought it was cool. I think I felt more pressure when I was little. Now I'm used to it."
Now that he has capped off his high school career with a second state championship, Conor will head to South Bend, Ind. in the fall.
"It's the little things my dad tells me that I'd never know if he wasn't my coach or dad that I'll miss the most about playing for him."
For Craig, the end of Conor's high school career marks the end of a very special time.
"I consider myself lucky," Craig said. "Baseball is what I know and who I was, but to be able to sit and coach your kids and other kids and teach them to respect the game and play the game the right way is pretty special. I got to spend four years with my oldest son that I never thought I'd be able to have, especially on the field."
Every little boy who swings a bat dreams of one day playing in the big leagues. Craig's accomplishments at the highest level of baseball are staggering. However, despite playing on the sport's grandest stages for two decades, it's been coaching his two sons on the high school diamonds across the Lone Star State where the former Astros great has found his fondest memories.
"For me to be a dad and a coach has been pretty special. It's the greatest move I've ever made. I'll cherish this time the rest of my life."Jon Buzby is the sports columnist for the Newark Post, a freelance writer, and on the broadcast team for the 1290AM The Ticket High School Football and Basketball Games of the Week. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.