YAPHANK - Chuck Alben grew up with Craig Biggio in Kings Park and has had a lasting friendship with the incoming Hall of Famer.
Alben and Biggio's friendship started in 1982, after Alben's older brother died of leukemia when he was just 6 years old. Afterward, Biggio became like a brother to him.
"I think he just felt that I needed somebody, and he was there from Day 1, and I'm forever grateful for his friendship," Alben says.
Biggio attended Seton Hall University in New Jersey, where Alben would occasionally visit. Once Biggio moved to the minor leagues in Asheville, North Carolina and then Tucson, Arizona, their friendship continued through letters.
Alben keeps a scrapbook of those letters and other mementos from Biggio's 22-year path through the minor leagues to the Hall of Fame. The impact of Biggio's friendship and influence can be found in that scrapbook, and it's those experiences that Alben uses to inspire players on the B45 Nation club baseball team in Yaphank.
"All the kids that I coach, they get those same lessons," says Alben. "There is a piece of Craig in every single kid that I've coached for sure."