Seven-time All-Star and Houston Astros Hall of Famer Craig Biggio knows where to go for custom outdoor accessories – Wilke's Badass Pits in downtown Conroe.
The second base legend was in Conroe Friday to pick up a custom fire pit from the company, a purchase that would normally set him back nearly $1,700. But Wilke's namesake and owner, Brian Wilke, said he actually made the pit for Biggio as a gift following the Astros' historic World Series run in October.
"It's a memorable build," Wilke said.
The pit, which is about 4 feet, six inches wide, features and Astros-themed exterior, including a replica of the back of Biggio's jersey, the Astros rainbow era logo featuring the Astrodome, the team's current logo and a shout-out to their first World Series win in October.
Biggio first became a customer of Wilke's shop in 2016. While placing the order, Biggio mostly talked to Wilke's wife, Angee, who did not understand Biggio's fame at the time.
"One Saturday morning, I get up and get this text message from a guy named Craig Biggio who said he'll be at my shop in an hour or so (to pick up an order)," he said. "I look at her and say, 'is this the guy you've been talking to?'"
Sure enough, Biggio showed up at Wilke's shop in his pickup truck that day, leaving Brian and his staff star-struck. But soon after the baseball star stepped out of his truck, the tensions cooled as Biggio's authenticity began to show.
"He's a real humble guy," Wilke said. "He's just like you or me."
"We've become friends. He texts on Thanksgiving and Christmas. He's a real nice guy."
During his most recent trip to Conroe for the gifted pit, Biggio stayed behind and chatted with Brian, his employees and a few of Brian's close friends. One big fan, Wilke's friend Lloyd Sandefer and his 16-year-old son, Easton, got autographs on memorabilia held over from one of Biggio's most memorable games in 2007.
Expecting to become one of only a handful of players to have 3,000 hits throughout their career, Biggio was sure to make that target during a four-game home stand against the Colorado Rockies in late June 2007. Sandefer and his son bought tickets to each of those games, anticipating the likelihood of witnessing the feat first-hand.
The two arrived at Minute Maid Park early for the game as the players were holding batting practice. As they walked in the left field entrance, a ball flew over the Crawford Boxes and onto the concourse where they were walking.
Sandefer picked it up and peered toward home plate where, sure enough, Biggio had just taken his last batting practice swing. Later that night, Biggio went on to collect his 3,000th career hit in a game the Astros would ultimately win in extra innings.
Sandefer kept that ball, as well as the Houston Chronicle commemorative poster handed out to fans after the game, locked away in a safe inside his home until Friday when he brought it out to Wilke's shop. Biggio understood the significance of the ball to Lloyd and Easton Sandefer and penned his signature on them. Lloyd Sandefer's father was also there Friday to meet the Astros legend.
"For Easton to hang onto the ball and poster for over 10 years, and to watch him share the story with Biggio in person was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience," Sandefer said. "Biggio is a humble role model. It was definitely a memory we will never forget – a class act."
For more information on Wilke's Badass Pits, visit www.wilkesbadasspits.com.