Hall of Famers Biggio, Guerrero, Rodríguez celebrate their sons' success

Part of the BASEBALL HISTORY series
Written by: Jose de Jesus Ortiz

Craig Biggio could hardly contain his emotions, and nobody could blame the Astros icon for divided loyalty.

Actually, those who know old No. 7 best realized it was silly to expect him to have divided loyalty.

Nonetheless, Biggio maintained an image of impartiality while his wife Patty and youngest daughter Quinn wore jerseys that were parts of two – one half a Blue Jays jersey while the other half was an Astros jersey. Craig and Patty Biggio’s oldest son, Conor, wore a Blue Jays jersey over an orange Astros T-shirt.

The Hall of Famer wore a stylish, untucked blue dress shirt, designer jeans and a wide, telling smile as rookie Cavan Biggio of the Blue Jays prepared to face his hometown Astros at Minute Maid Park for the first time on June 14, 2019.

The elder Biggio already has been enshrined among baseball’s immortals in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, securing his spot in the Class of 2015 in Cooperstown, N.Y. He collected 3,060 hits over 20 seasons, all with the Astros.

Yet, if you ask Patty Biggio, there’s no doubt that his most treasured accomplishment has been his children. Biggio embodied grit, old-school toughness and pride in playing baseball the right away.
When asked if she thought Craig had more pride in his career or seeing his own son in the majors, Patty Biggio didn’t hesitate.

“Oh, definitely seeing his own son for sure,” Patty Biggio said. “Craig has always been an unselfish person and always praises other people’s success. Now to see his own son do this, I think this is by far – as a father – this is the greatest moment for him.”

On a glorious evening that brought back lots of memories for Cavan Biggio and his father, there was another Hall of Famer’s son in the visitors’ dugout. Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. could appreciate all the love in Houston. It was Father’s Day weekend, no less, making Biggio’s homecoming even sweeter.

“You feel happy,” Guerrero Jr. said. “It’s Father’s Day, and all of his family is here, and I know he’s very proud.

“I think the biggest thing you feel is happiness. You’re happy in the sense that because your dad played here they cheer you. You feel at home. Just imagine, he’s been here since he was a kid. He’s at home.”

In many ways, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has felt at home in Toronto as well. He was born in Montreal when his father played for the Expos.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was practically a household name in his own right by the time the Blue Jays’ front office let him leave his minor-league team for a few days to attend his father’s induction in Cooperstown in 2018.

As Vladimir Sr. was being enshrined in Cooperstown, Junior was already considered the top prospect in baseball.

By that time, 2017 inductee Iván “Pudge” Rodríguez was already celebrating his son’s career in the majors.

In less than a year, three sons of Hall of Famers debuted in the majors. Dereck Rodríguez, Iván’s son, made his debut on the mound for the Giants on May 29, 2018, at 25 years old. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made his highly anticipated debut with the Blue Jays on April 26, 2019, at 20 years old.

“I feel very happy,” Guerrero Sr. said. “You know, he is my first son. I never pushed him to play baseball, but since he was three or two-and-a-half years old he took one of my bats in Montreal and he used to swing.

“I think you feel happy to see him grow up and now being 20 to be in the major leagues. I pray to God to give him health because I believe he could do a good job.”

Cavan Biggio followed Guerrero to the majors May 24, 2019, at the age of 24.

Cavan Biggio became the 14th son of a Hall of Famer to reach the majors. The other Hall of Famers and their sons to reach the majors are: Earl Averill Sr. and Jr., Freddie Lindstrom and Charlie Lindstrom, Eddie Collins Sr. and Jr., Jim O'Rourke and Queenie O'Rourke, Ed Augustine Walsh and Ed Arthur Walsh, Tony Gwynn Sr. and Jr., Yogi and Dale Berra, Connie and Earle Mack, George and Dave and Dick Sisler, Tony Pérez and Eduardo Perez and Tim Raines Sr. and Jr.

As far as Guerrero and Biggio are concerned, they’re more focused on helping the young Blue Jays win than trying to live up to their legendary fathers’ legacies.

“They did their job, and we’re doing our own job now,” Vladimir Guerrero Jr. said. “We’re just here trying to help our team win.”

With that said, there is something special about playing the majors against your dad’s old team in the city where you grew up.

"I always wanted to play in this stadium, whether or not it was with ‘Astros’ on my chest," Cavan said.

Cavan was only four years old when his father played his last game at the Astrodome. Most of his memories of his father’s career are at Minute Maid Park, which opened in 2000.

The Biggios were constant fixtures in the home clubhouse.

In one of the most memorable moments in Astros history, Craig Biggio famously lifted Cavan into his arms near second base in 2007 soon after he collected his 3,000th hit.

“Obviously you have to have the skill set for one, right?” Craig Biggio said. “Also, if they were old enough to see what their dad did, they had a golden opportunity to see how your dad acts and how his teammates act day in and day out.

“I think that’s huge in the industry because you get a little bit of a tiny head start because you understand it. You still got to go out there and perform. Don’t get me wrong, it’s extremely difficult. But I think it’s exciting for me and I’m sure a lot of the other pro guys to see the sons ... make it.”

Cavan and his older brother used to hold fake press conferences at Minute Maid Park as kids. They would go into the media conference room, sit behind the mic, pretend they were former manager Phil Garner and talk about their father collecting the winning hit.

On June 14 Cavan sat near his father in the Astros’ media conference room for a real press conference.

“It feels great,” Patty Biggio said. “It feels very natural. It’s a place he grew up in, a place he feels very comfortable at. We’re just so excited for him and so proud of how hard he’s worked to get to this moment of having a dream of his come true.

“Playing at Minute Maid has always been a dream of his, either as an Astros or any team. Seeing him so excited makes us so happy.”

Guerrero has been one of the top AL Rookie of the Year contenders. He stole the show during the Home Run Derby during the All-Star Game festivities at Cleveland’s Progressive Field. He finished second even though his father advised him to skip the derby.

Guerrero Sr. missed the derby because he had business back in his native Dominican Republic.

“Thank God I saw him with many people in my home, and we were proud of the job he did,” Guerrero Sr. said. “”Like we say, ‘He didn’t just shut me up; he shut those up that didn’t want him to go.’ But I knew he could do a good job.”

Dereck Rodríguez shuttled between the majors and minors in his second season. Pudge handled so many pitchers, he usually knows exactly the pitch his son will throw.

Despite his legendary career, he agonizes over close calls that go against his son, just as any pitcher’s parent would.

“You just try to be composed,” Iván Rodríguez said. “But when it's a close call obviously I don't scream at the umpire but I (make) a little face or something.”

Cavan has been a steady producer while serving as a super utility player. As fate would have it, he actually played his father’s old position, second base, at Minute Maid Park in his first visit home. He even collected the first double of his career at Minute Maid Park, which was quite poetic because his father was known as one of the best doubles hitters of his era.

“I think it’s a lot harder to watch them do it because the one thing that I control is myself,” Craig Biggio said. “I don’t control him. He’s pretty good. He understands himself. It’s like anything, it’s a hard game.

“The guy that’s throwing the ball at you is pretty good. The guy that’s catching the ball is pretty good. Everybody’s pretty good. It was definitely easier for me when I played because I controlled everything. Now watching you have a different perspective on things.”

For Craig Biggio, Iván Rodríguez and Vladimir Guerrero Sr., their perspective is a Hall of Fame perspective.

Jose de Jesus Ortiz covered the Astros from 2001 through 2015 for the Houston Chronicle

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Part of the BASEBALL HISTORY series