There is one road that will always remain the same. It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. And its destination is somewhere they never quite left. For former Eagles, distant and near, it’s the road home, their home at 4500 Memorial.
For Toronto Blue Jay Cavan Biggio ‘13 and former MLB pitcher Jeff McCurry ‘88, the return was to receive a permanent place in St. Thomas lore. Biggio’s No. 23 and McCurry’s No. 17 were retired in January during a joyous celebration at the new and striking Fr. Wilson Field. A legion of family and friends, supporters and St. Thomas stakeholders shared in the vibrant festivities hosted by president Fr. James Murphy, athletic director Mike Netzel, and head coach Adam Massiatte.
“Coming to St. Thomas (from St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School), I learned what kind of player I could be,” Cavan says. “I owe a lot to the coaches here and the school for establishing that confidence. This is where my journey started and accelerated. I’ll always be grateful.”
Biggio and McCurry joined Wade Simoneaux ‘94, who fought a sixteen-year battle against ALS, and Fr. James Wilson, CSB with the ultimate salute from Eagle Athletics. Fr. Wilson served St. Thomas for more than fifty years as a legendary baseball coach, teacher, and administrator. An emphatic champion for amateur baseball in the city is the namesake for one of the premier on-campus high school baseball parks in Texas and the region.
The men of the moment shared more than the one-day ceremonial applause. Their accomplishments were charged by a collection of countless little choices. Everyday due diligence, sharpening their skills, marking something significant.
“There was so much effort and commitment that people didn’t see, by yourself in an empty gym or at home, any exercise for an advantage,” McCurry says. “It can be exhaustive. But that’s what separates those who move on and those who tap out.”
McCurry was a sensational two-sport standout collecting a heady heap of national scholarship offers including Big East basketball and beyond. He hedged that baseball would prove the better bet. McCurry initially opted for TCU, then transferred to power San Jacinto College where he pitched for legendary College Hall of Fame coach Wayne Graham during a nationally dominant championship run.
McCurry was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1990, debuted with the organization five years later, and made major league stops with the Tigers, Rockies, and Astros before calling his career to a close in his hometown after the 1999 season. He then crafted a two-decade investment profession as
first vice president and senior financial advisor with Merrell Lynch. And in the previous decade, McCurry has served as a savvy and invaluable pitching coach for Eagle Baseball.
“I’m so thankful for the impact so many others had on me,” McCurry says. “I’m not here representing only myself. To have my family, particularly my wife Renee share in this recognition makes it so much more meaningful. It tugs at my heart.”
The Biggio band was bonded yet again through St. Thomas. Craig, Patty, and brother Conor ‘11 were alongside Cavan, swirling in a diamond daze far removed from when the two brothers tag-teamed for a pair of Eagle state championships with their forever Astros icon and National Baseball Hall of Fame father as the bench boss and then added a third state final appearance and fourth trip to the state tournament. Cavan was also part of the USA Baseball 18U National Team that won the International Baseball Federation Junior AAA World Championship in Seoul, South Korea.
Through a standout stay at Notre Dame and into his sixth season with the Blue Jays, Cavan has long grown accustomed to performing with the legendary surname branded on his back, making him a visible target for the inevitable comparisons to the seven-time All-Star who fronted a star-crossed and success-starved franchise for 20 years. Biggio the Older remains one of only 33 big leaguers to rack 3,000 hits and the only one to add 600 doubles, 400 stolen bases, and 250 home runs.
“Cavan has so much to be proud of in his own right,” Craig says. “He’s never been a big talker but always a great listener. And he’s been a worker like he continues to be today. He’s a grinder, taking that ethic he had as a kid, into high school, college, and pro ball. It’s fun to see the success that he’s having.”
Cavan admits to “always dreaming of becoming a major league player. I so appreciate my many opportunities. I never try to take for granted what I’ve been given.”
Biggio and McCurry were built through determination and drive.
Passion and pride.
Built from hopes. Dreams. And what-ifs.
Built to inspire, even amaze.
Built for challenges. To break new ground. Be the one who dared.
Built for glory.
The two St. Thomas luminaries left campus as living Eagle legends and then avoided what is often an awkward dismount of trying to figure out how to extend the story. Their triumphs had nothing to do with the fairy tale of going from home to high school to the major leagues. They were (and Biggio is) imbued with an insatiable competitive desire.
The terrific twosome traveled the difficult climb of most resistance and ascended to the most rarefied heights afforded an Eagle student-athlete.
Eagle Fight Never Dies!