Saturday, June 10, 2017

Larry Dierker (#498)

Here is my slightly-out-of-register Larry Dierker card. (I don’t think I've ever noticed that before today.) I also noticed today that Larry jumped to the majors after only 1 season in the low minors.

Dierker was signed by the Houston Colt .45s in 1964 after pitching at UC Santa Barbara. After 9 games in Rookie-league ball, Larry made his debut with the Colts on his 18th birthday in September 1964. He struck out Willie Mays in his first inning pitched.

At the start of the 1965 season, he joined the newly-renamed-Astros' starting rotation, which included veterans Bob Bruce and Turk Farrell. (In the coming years, he would be joined by Dave Giusti, Mike Cuellar and Don Wilson.)

Dierker remained one of the Astros' top starters through the 1976 season (although missing much of 1973). He was the Astros' first 20-game winner in 1969, and an All-Star in '69 and '71. He had double-digit wins in 9 of his 12 seasons with the Astros, who always finished in the bottom half during his tenure.

After the 1976 season he was traded to the Cardinals for catcher Joe Ferguson. The Cards released him after only one season, ending his 14-year career.

From 1979 to 1996, Larry was a broadcaster for the Astros.

He left the booth to manage the Astros from 1997 to 2001, and in contrast to his playing career, the team finished FIRST in 4 of those 5 seasons. He was named Manager of the Year in 1998. During the 1999 season, he suffered a seizure which required brain surgery, and several months recuperation before returning to the team.

The Astros retired his number in 2002. Dierker returned to his old broadcasting job for the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

As of this writing, Dierker still holds the Astros' team record for shutouts (25), complete games (106), innings pitched (2294), and games started (32), His 137 wins put him 3rd behind Joe Niekro and Roy Oswalt.

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