HARRIS COUNTY – HOUSTON SPORTS AUTHORITY INSIDER

Biggio makes a difference through longtime relationship with Sunshine Kids

Craig Biggio is still making a difference. Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

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It was a day filled with hugs and smiles.

A day to forget the hospitals and treatments, the pain and the fears that come with cancer.

A day to see old friends and meet new ones, to run the same bases their hometown heroes run and get a hit off of one of Houston’s favorite sons – Hall of Famer Craig Biggio.

Yes, it was the annual Sunshine Kids Party at Minute Maid Park, hosted by Biggio and his wife Patty. It’s a party they’ve been hosting for more than 30 years now and they probably will host for 30 more.

“It’s a lifetime commitment they’ve made to be here for the kids,’’ said Jennifer Wisler, Sunshine Kids director of children’s services. “ . . . I don’t know where we’d be without him. He’s been an incredible role model for family and friends.’’

The party started at a high school field, then moved the Astrodome. Now, it’s at Minute Maid, home of the 2017 World Champions.

Each year, the party fills up the second the RSVPs go out and each year the Biggio family is there to make sure these patients have a couple of hours where they can just be kids.

“These kids get to come out and forget about some of the things going on in their lives and just run around,’’ Biggio said. “They can get a good hot dog and a coke and enjoy themselves.’’

And relax.

This isn’t a day when the kids stand in awe of Biggio. It’s one when they greet him like an old friend.

“We’re family,’’ he said. “As much as they look at me as family, they’re family to me too. I love them to death.”

Biggio started this to honor an old childhood friend who battled cancer and it just took off.

“I got into this with the intent of having fun and seeing where it goes,’’ he said. “For they city to embrace the Sunshine Kids and have my teammates embrace it, it’s been fun, its been great.

“We count our blessings with it.’’

The Sunshine Kids do as well.

“It’s giving these kids the opportunity not only to get away from the hospital visits and thoughts of cancer, but to meet other kids who are also struggling with a cancer diagnosis,’’ Wisler said. “It’s knowing they’re not alone.

“And for the once in a lifetime part of it, they’re down here and playing baseball against their hometown hero Craig Biggio.’’

The interaction between the Biggios and the Sunshine Kids is amazing. Jillie started coming to the event when she was 15 and had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Today, she comes back to volunteer and help out other children battling a variety of cancers.

“I wanted to give back to the people who have given to me,’’ she said. “It’s fun running the bases and acting like an Astro.

“And I find Craig Biggio an amazing person. He really treats you like family. I really find that special.’’

Wisler said the only tough part of the day is knowing there are children who can’t be there.

“Sadly, we have kids who were too sick to make it here today,’’ she said. “It breaks your heart.’’

But for those who are here?

“It’s special to be around your best friends who know what you’re going through,’’ she said.

And to get a Hall of Fame hug, an autograph and a hit off one of your heroes.

For more information on volunteering with the Sunshine Kids or to make a donation, go to www.sunshinekids.org.

Pitching woes continue for Houston

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: Twins 9, Astros 5

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After a disappointing series in Arlington to wrap up their recent road trip, the Astros were back at home to start a three-game series with the Twins on Monday night. Here's how the series opener went:

Final Score: Twins 9, Astros 5

Record: 13-9, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (2-2).

Losing pitcher: Brad Peacock (2-1).

Star of the game: Josh Reddick had a great night at the plate in the loss on Monday night, going 3 for 4 including an RBI single which at the time had Houston within two runs of the Twins.

Notes: For the third straight game, the Astros could not get out of the first inning without letting the opposing team take a lead. Brad Peacock got out to a rough start, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks in the top of the first, putting Minnesota up 2-0 before Houston could get to the plate. Former Astro Jason Castro extended the lead to 3-0 with a leadoff solo home run in the top of the second. The Astros got a run back in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single from Josh Reddick, and almost had another on a double by Tyler White, but the Twins were able to gun down Reddick at home plate to end the inning and keep it a two-run game at 3-1.

Peacock's three-run night was done after five innings, and Josh James took over in the top of the sixth, but he'd allow four runs to score to break the game open at 7-1 in favor of the Twins. Michael Brantley took one run back in the bottom of the inning, launching a solo home run to make it 7-2, then Houston was able to get two runners on in the bottom of the seventh to set up Carlos Correa for a huge three-run home run to make it a 7-5 game. Chris Devenski took over on the mound in the top of the eighth and would allow a two-out two-run home run to the Twins to put them back ahead by four runs at 9-5. The Astros would be unable to get any closer than that, getting no runs in the eighth or ninth to drop the first game of the series.

Up Next: Game two of the series will get underway at the same time on Tuesday night, with first pitch at 7:10 PM. Houston will send out Wade Miley (1-2, 3.32 ERA) who will go up against Michael Pineda (2-1, 5.30 ERA) for the Twins.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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