Lawrence Edward Dierker (born September 22, 1946) is a former Major League Baseball pitcher, manager, and broadcaster. During a 14-year baseball career as a pitcher, he pitched from 1964–1977 for the Houston Colt .45s/Astros and the St. Louis Cardinals. He also managed the Astros for five years (1997–2001).
Signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, Dierker made his major-league pitching debut on his 18th birthday – and struck out Willie Mays in the first inning. In 1969, he became the Astros' first 20-game winner, while compiling a 2.33 earned run average, 20 complete games and 232 strikeouts over 305 innings. He was elected to the National League All-Star team in 1969 and 1971. On July 9, 1976, Dierker pitched a no hitter against the Montreal Expos. As of 2013, Dierker is the last 17 year old to make his major league debut. On May 19, 2002, the Astros honored Dierker, retiring his No. 49 jersey.
From 1979 to 1996, Dierker served as a color commentator on the Astros' radio and television broadcasts, a position he returned to in 2004 and 2005.
Dierker was elected National League Manager of the Year in 1998. Houston finished in first place in four of the five years Dierker managed the team, failing only in 2000 when the Astros placed fourth. In 1999, Dierker had a medical scare during a game against the San Diego Padres. The Houston manager had been plagued by severe headaches for several days. During the game, Dierker had a seizure that rendered him unconscious. He required emergency brain surgery for a cavernous angioma. After four weeks of recovery, he returned to the helm of the Astros and guided the team through the duration of the season. The Astros won 97 games and a third consecutive National League Central Division title.
Dierker serves as a community outreach executive for the Astros. He has also penned a book entitled This Ain't Brain Surgery, which detailed his baseball career as a pitcher and a manager. He later wrote My Team, in which he ruminated on the greatest players he had been witness to in his years of baseball.
Larry is available for:
- Autograph Sessions