The Fine Art of Biggio and Bagwell

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In 2004, during my tenure as Board Chair and Executive Director of the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame, we voted to induct three prominent members of the Houston Astros family into our Lone Star State Hall. Those inductees included 2nd baseman Craig Biggio, 1st baseman Jeff Bagwell, and broadcater Bill Brown, who only retired this year after thirty years of Hall of Fame quality service to Houston Astros fans.

One year earlier, the Houston Astros already had taken it upon themselves to install slightly larger than life separate bronze statuary  of Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell completing an implicit double play on the grassy area just beyond the left center field wall at Minute Maid Park in Houston – and doing so from a fair distance of about 90 feet apart. Several years later, on February 10, 2010, writer Larry Granillo wrote this telling comment about the Biggio-Bagwell statues in an article for an Internet publication known as The Sports Daily: “I’m actually surprised to see statues of Bagwell and Biggio already. It seems like teams usually wait (for a Hall of Fame vote, maybe) on something like that. I like the design, though, with Bagwell stretching to catch a double-play toss from Biggio. It works well.”

Jeff Bagwell By Opie Otterstad

Jeff Bagwell
By
Opie Otterstad

Granillo simply didn’t get what we Houston fans and the club itself already understood. Even when the statues were installed in 2003, even when we inducted both men together into our state Hall of Fame, we locals just knew, even then: These guys would go onto finish their playing days as the rarest of birds in the sporting world today. Together they would total 35 years of service to the Houston club as career Astros – and they someday would be inducted together into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. In my opening remarks at their 2004 induction into the TBHOF, I even lightly commented that we wanted to give both of them the practice here in Texas before they finally reached “the big Hall” together someday.

“Together” is looking more and more like the only error we all made in our local anticipation of their future honors. With the good to great prospects now riding high that Jeff Bagwell gains the nod to Cooperstown in two days, it looks more and more like we only missed their arrival dates by a couple of years. It could not have been avoided. Once the forces of doubt began to spread to all players who had been muscular power hitters during the zenith years of steroids abuse, there was no way that shadow would miss a fellow like Jeff Bagwell. Even though he had never tested positive for steroids, nor been name or accused by anyone of having done so, Bagwell has been forced to ride out the tide of temporary rejection by the “embarrassed holding back voters” (my term for them). These were the writers who would’ve voted for Jeff in his first year, but still feared that something might still come out later to hurt their own reputations for having supported Jeff Bagwell. Now that more time has passed since Bagwell reached the HOF ballot, these same voters are now less worried about a vote for Bagwell coming back to bite them. – Human character and courage are wonderful traits, aren’t they?

Craig Biggio By Opie Otterstad

Craig Biggio
By
Opie Otterstad

At any rate, the fine art of the statuary, we would like to credit the MMP pieces by name to the sculptor, but we could not locate it on our own on a short deadline. If you have the answer, please leave it with us as a comment upon this column and we will then also add it to the body of this article with credit to you for your very important research contribution.

The phenomenal talent of the great Austin-based, but nationally famous fine artist, Opie Otterstad, is the gem that pours the particular souls of each man all over these two great baseball-cards-that-could’ve-been-but-never-were. Opie even used some kind of bees wax material in the paint he used to do both Biggio and Bagwell as a tribute to the “Killer Bees” identity they started with the Astros.

It’s true. Art imitates life. Now, if only life could imitate these four fine pieces of art by moving others who view them to draw upon their own creative energies, whatever they may be, and do something that further spreads the beauty and joy of life,  what a wonderful world it could be.

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eagle-0range
 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

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