By Father Gabe Costa
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On Tuesday, January 6, 2015, the BBWAA announced its selections for the Hall of Fame class of 2015.
The baseball writers chose two dominant pitchers (Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez), the only hurler in history with 200-plus wins and 150-plus saves (John Smoltz) and a product of Seton Hall University's well-known baseball program, Craig Biggio. For the three pitchers, their election came in their first year of eligibility; for Biggio, the third time was a charm.
Biggio, who played his entire 20-year career with the Houston Astros, was a catcher, an infielder and an outfielder. His statistics have been presented in previous blogs, and the 3,000-hit club member has certainly merited enshrinement into Cooperstown.
But there is another part of this story that should be highlighted: the Seton Hall University baseball program.
As in most colleges and universities, baseball takes a back seat to football and/or basketball. This is especially true in the northern part of the country, where the weather is not nearly as conducive to baseball as it is in, say, Florida, Arizona or Southern California. And yet, there has been a steady stream of baseball players who make it from the Seton Hall baseball field (which is shared with our soccer team) to the baseball diamonds of the major leagues.
It has been my privilege to be associated with Seton Hall since 1980, when Archbishop Peter L. Gerety assigned me to the South Orange, N.J. university. I have had the pleasure of teaching mathematics to John Valentin (11 years in MLB), Jason Grilli (who started his MLB career in 2000 and is still an active pitcher) and Marteese Robinson (Co-Collegiate Player of the Year, with Robin Ventura, in 1987). The reader will no doubt recall how Rick Cerone (18-year veteran) picked up much of the slack for the Yankees soon after Thurman Munson's tragic death. And recall that first baseman and lefty slugger Mo Vaughn, who played a dozen years in the big leagues, won the American League MVP award in 1995.
All Seton Hall products.
And now Craig Biggio is rubbing elbows with the likes of Babe Ruth and Willie Mays.
Kudos to Biggio and kudos to the great coaching staff at Seton Hall University.
Finally, for more on this, may I suggest the following book by David Siroty, which came out in 2002? It is titled "The Hit Men and the Kid Who Batted Ninth: Biggio, Valentin, Vaughn & Robinson: Together Again in the Big Leagues."
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