Three hundred ten people received their call already, and this past Sunday, Seton Hall baseball and the Houston Astros had a man of their own answer the phone for the first time.
Craig Biggio, former Pirate and Astro, was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.
This marks an unbelievable accomplishment for the Pirates, as the school is now incorporated into one of the greatest sporting fraternities the world has to offer. Biggio played from 1985-87 in South Orange, leading the team to a regional appearance in the College Baseball World Series and collecting First Team All-American honors his junior year.
Those days in the blue and white hold a special place in Biggio’s heart, as they do for the Pirate faithful, and he hasn’t forgotten about the days spent on campus.
“You appreciate the things you have,” Biggio said. “And I appreciate the time that I had there and my friends that I had there. It was a great, positive experience for me.”
While Biggio appreciates the time at Seton Hall, the school equally appreciates the time he spent in South Orange. From purely just a program standpoint, this type of award and recognition benefits the baseball team immensely.
Now this baseball program has a man of their own who holds a bronze plaque in those hallowed halls of Cooperstown. Imagine what it would be like to hear that as an 18-year-old high school recruit. The school that wants you to come play for it has given a Hall of Fame opportunity to an individual before you. If they could do it, why can’t you?
Biggio sees the importance of what his induction means for the program and school, and he couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.
“To draw attention to Seton Hall baseball, I’m excited about that,” Biggio said. ‘That was a part of my life, and a big reason why I am here today.”
Not only did Biggio talk about his appreciation for the Hall and how happy he was to draw attention to it, he also used his enlarged media platform to pass around more love to the Pirates, and whatever recruits may be listening.
“There have been a lot of great players to play at Seton Hall, if you look at the history of it,” Biggio said. “I compare it and rank it up there with some of the greatest programs in all of baseball.”
Those are some big words from a man with a big resume. But the meaning of this induction goes beyond how a man from the Hall who reached a superior level of baseball talent can help his former team. It allows the Pirate following to feel serious levels of pride.
Since my time at Seton Hall, I haven’t experienced a great amount of major sporting success. A few cool moments here and there—beating Villanova and St. John’s plus the women’s basketball team last season, to name a couple. But beyond that, there aren’t too many huge moments. So this weekend, this moment, really brings Pirate pride to prominence.
As I stated before, Biggio loves Seton Hall and his time here. He loves his former coach Mike Sheppard Sr., and his impact on the university is more prominent than maybe a student who has never actually seen him walking around on campus may think.
Don’t think so? Athletic Director Pat Lyons will tell you otherwise, just based off his personal experiences with Biggio.
“My first day on the job actually was in Texas,” Lyons said. “And I met with Craig for breakfast. So he was probably the first Seton Hall person I even met with while on the job for Seton Hall.”
His impact doesn’t stop there though, as Lyons pointed my attention to the crowd when I got a chance to speak with him right before the official ceremony Sunday afternoon.
“Look all over the place right now,” Lyons said. “I mean, it literally has to be a tie between him and Pedro for supporters and there’s a ton of Seton Hall guys here. Whether they came up with the bus or on their own. … Even the chair of our Board of Regents came up from Texas just for this, which again just shows the impact that Craig’s had on so many people.”
I will be honest, before Biggio got the call to the Hall of Fame I rarely viewed him as a big part of Seton Hall, or someone who held a prominent role with real value who aided this campus.
After this weekend, and hearing about how deeply affectionate Biggio still is about the Blue and White, I understand wholly that this award and recognition means just as much for the SHU community as it does for him.
This moment gives us a reason to feel a part of the larger Seton Hall family, to remember that no matter where you go once you leave South Orange, you still have the people that you left back there in your corner.
“He looks back on his Seton Hall time as a very pivotal moment in his life,” Lyons told me about Biggio. “These are my words, not his, but he looks at Mike Sheppard as sort of like a father figure that really helped him become who he is today.”
After all the dust settled this weekend, one thing was so abundantly clear.
For Biggio’s call from his first Hall, to the Hall that he will spend in baseball immortality, this was one of the most famous moments for both parties involved.
Dennis Chambers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @duhbonez.