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 HOUSTON (AP) -Minute Maid Park was more than three-fourths full 45 minutes before game time Sunday as the Houston Astros held a ceremony honoring Craig Biggio for his 3,000-plus hits and 20-plus years of playing.
``This is a very overwhelming experience for a player,'' Biggio told the crowd. ``To have this many people come out for a ceremony like this is one of the ultimate compliments you can have.
``I am so lucky - I have had an Astros uniform on for 20 years.''
Biggio was driven onto the field in a black 1956 Chevrolet convertible along with his wife Patty, sons Conor, 14, and Cavan, 12, and daughter Quinn, 7.
Special guests on the field included former teammates Jeff Bagwell, Nolan Ryan and Casey Candaele, and Nancy Caminiti, wife of former teammate Ken Caminiti, who died in 2004.
Astros owner Drayton McLane and general manager Tim Purpura were on hand, along with G.W. Bailey, executive director of the Sunshine Kids Foundation.
About longtime teammate Bagwell, Biggio said, ``Baggie, I guess all things have to come to an end. But I love you and we'll be friends forever.''
The crowd chanted Biggio's name when he was introduced and a five-minute long tribute was played on the big screen that included well-wishes from fellow members of the 3,000-hit club Tony Gwynn, Cal RipkenJr., Rickey Henderson. He was given letters from Pete Rose, Robin Yount and Wade Boggs congratulating him.
Bagwell spoke first and said that it was an honor to play with Biggio. Son Conor thanked the Astros fans and described his experience growing up in the Astrodome. McLane thanked Biggio for his service to the team and community, presented him with a crystal bat and unveiled a permanent sign on the stadium wall commemorating his 3,000 hits.
Officials said that Biggio had helped raise more than $2.5 million for the Sunshine Kids, his favorite charity, over the past 15 years.
The bat, cap, batting glove and batting jersey from June 28, the night Biggio got his 3,000th hit, were donated to the Hall of Fame.
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