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Galante plays big role in Biggio's Hall of Fame career

HOUSTON -- When Craig Biggio gives his acceptance speech in Cooperstown, N.Y., in July, he'll likely thank a handful of people who were there with him from the very beginning.

Expect Matt Galante to be near the top of that very short list.

Galante, who coached at every level during his several-decades-long tenure with the Astros, was the bench coach in the late 1980s when Biggio first started coming into his own as a legitimate big league catcher. And it was Galante who was instrumental in convincing Biggio that a position switch to second base, which the club wanted Biggio to make, was actually a good idea.

Big Unit, Pedro, Smoltz, Biggio make Hall of Fame

Galante was something of a father figure to Biggio. They both are native New Yorkers. They had similar backgrounds. They spoke the same language. If there was anyone Biggio trusted implicitly, it was Galante, a longtime baseball man who had a knack for connecting with young players. He convinced Biggio to embrace the switch, and then dedicated almost every waking hour to seeing the project through to completion.

The result was a Gold Glove Award for Biggio, which turned into a Gold Glove for Galante, when Biggio presented him with the trophy.

"If it wasn't for him, it wouldn't have worked," Biggio said of the switch. "It literally was the hardest thing I ever had to do in professional baseball."

Said Galante: "It shows you what kind of person he is. He wasn't going to just play second. He wanted to be the best."

Judging from Tuesday's results, the lofty expectations from both student and teacher paid off.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.
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