This Week in Baseball History: June 28 – July 4

Craig Biggio sure knows how to both get a hit and get hit.

June 28, 2007 – Craig Biggio’s 3,000th Hit


Craig Biggio in his prime could do it all. He is just one of nine players with 200 HR, 400 SB, and a Gold Glove. He is the only hitter to achieve those accolades while playing any games at catcher.

As a true five-tool player, Biggio played a critical role among the Houston Astros‘ “Killer B’s.” He was an ironman, too, playing in fewer than 140 games in just four out of 20 seasons. The only time he played in fewer than 100 games was his rookie season.

Biggio was never the premier hitter in the majors—he never led the league and reached the 200-hit plateau in just one year. With his level of longevity and durability, the counting stats add up.

But as Biggio entered his mid-30s, his bat started weakening. What was once a slash line of .303/.397/.473 (132 OPS+) from ’93 to ’99 quickly decreased into a line of .268/.345/.435 (98 OPS+) from ’00 to ’06. At the end of the 2006 season, it seemed as though Biggio would soon hang up his cleats for a plaque in Cooperstown.

There was just one important goal left. Biggio’s eclectic trophy case of diverse awards lacked enshrinement in one of baseball’s most immortal groups: the 3,000 hit club. He entered 2006 needing just 70 hits to reach this milestone.

The first two months of the season were a grind. While Biggio finished April with 23 hits and a .757 OPS, his 24 hits in May accompanied a .625 OPS. Biggio needed just 23 more hits to reach No. 3,000.

That day came on June 28. This mid-season matchup between two sub-.500 teams (the Astros and Rockies) didn’t command much attention besides that directed toward Biggio, who began the day at 2,997.

After grounding out in the first, Biggio returned with No. 2,998 in the third—a single to center. His next hit, also a single, followed in the fifth.

Just one more remaining.

Like a machine, Biggio reached that illustrious plateau in his next AB, scoring the Astros’ first run of the evening while etching his own name among baseball’s immortals.


The Astros, who were tied 1 – 1 with the Rockies, finally saw their offense wake up. While the Rockies jumped out with a three-run explosion in the top of the eighth, the Astros equalized the score in the bottom half of the inning. Three more innings passed by before the 11th, when a leadoff HR by Troy Tulowitzki seemed to be the crucial game-winning run.

But in the bottom of the inning, Biggio kick-started the Astros yet again with a two-out single. The next two Astros reached base, loading the bags for Carlos Lee.

This is what followed.


An incredible way to cap off the day for Astros fans. Biggio finished the day going 5-for-6, storming into the record books with arguably his best performance of his ultimate season.


June 29, 2005 – Biggio Breaks Modern HBP Record


But wait! That’s not the only thing Biggio did this week…

The level of skill needed to get a hit at the major league level is one of the most difficult things in professional sports. But the art of getting hit is much, much harder.

Don’t believe me? Just look at the numbers.

There are 32 players in the 3,000 hit club. Just eight hitters are in the 200 hit by pitch club.

As you can guess by the title of this section, only one player is in both exclusive groups: Craig Biggio.

He wasn’t the most efficient with his HBPs—the dead-ball era player Tommy Tucker averaged an amazing 20.9 HBP each season, compared to Biggio’s 14.25.

But Tucker played back in the 1800s when you struggled to see a pitch throw at you because the ball was masked in tobacco juice, dirt, and whatever darkening agent a pitcher could get his hands on. Biggio’s career was in the modern era, where the unexpected death of Ray Chapman in 1920 led to more stringent regulations regarding the quality and appearance of a game ball.

Somehow, Biggio uncovered the keys to succeed at hitting and getting hit. From 1995 to 2003, Biggio led baseball in HBP in five out of nine seasons, peaking at 34 HBPs in 1997.

Before the 2005 season, Biggio stood at 256 HBPs. The modern record belonged to Don Baylor, who carved out 267 HBPs in 19 seasons.

But Biggio was dead set on being the best at this unique skill. Biggio racked up three HBPs in April, adding another three in May. A couple more to start June, and Biggio entered his June 29 game against the Rockies (again) tied for the modern-day record with 267.

His fateful highlight came in the fourth with the Astros trying to string together some points off of Byung-Hyun Kim. Just like hundreds of pitchers had done before, Kim threw too far inside and nicked Biggio, who wore a painful yet celebratory grimace as he worked his way down to first with HBP No. 268.


Biggio finished his career with 285 total, a mark that seems tough to meet. But the active leader, Anthony Rizzo, has 162 at 31 years old. If Rizzo plays 10 more seasons, he would need to average 12.5 HBP a year.

It is doable for Rizzo. Between 2014 and 2019, Rizzo never recorded fewer than 15 HBPs in a season. In a Covid-shortened 2020, he still managed 10. This year he already sits at seven. Do you think he could do it?


July 4, 1939 – Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” Speech


One of the most famous lines in sports history:

“Today, I consider myself… the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig uttered those eternal words—a call that echoed throughout the hallowed grounds of the Old Yankee Stadium and reverberated for generations. It was the culmination of a long and difficult battle that afflicted one of baseball’s most beloved figures.

Gehrig’s fall from “Iron Horse” to retirement was a sharp and abrupt shift. Beginning on June 1, 1925, Gehrig’s consecutive games streak would continue until May 2, 1939—a 15-year span. In 1937, Gehrig was still had the second-highest wRC+ in all of baseball (176). A year later, his hitting worsened to a 137 wRC+.

By the time, Gehrig’s fatigue and lack of power had a noticeable impact on his performance. He couldn’t quite pinpoint the exact cause nor could he deny that he was no longer the same hitter.

On May 2, Gehrig voluntarily ended his consecutive-game streak and shocked the baseball world. Few could ever expect that the Iron Horse would never play in a game again.

About a month later, Gehrig was examined by doctors at the Mayo Clinic who diagnosed him with the rare neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis aka ALS. Facing a grim prognosis that indicated rapid physical deterioration, Gehrig and the Yankees announced his retirement on June 21. Roughly two weeks later on July 4, Gehrig gave his final farewell to fans on Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day.

In a packed Yankee Stadium that lacked any dry eyes, Gehrig gave one of the most moving and emotional goodbyes in sports history.


Within two years of his diagnosis, baseball’s most durable athlete would pass away on June 2, 1941 at the age of 37.


Photo by Icon Sportswire | | Feature Graphic Designed by James Peterson (Follow @jhp_design714 on Instagram & Twitter)

Alex Kleinman

Journalist who loves the Yankees and the Bears. One gives me strength, the other leads me to existential dread. When I'm not obsessing over baseball, you can find me at a concert, hiking in a National Park or chasing my dog, Frankie, who has probably stolen one of my socks.

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