Catching Up with Former Astros Pitcher, Manager and Broadcaster Larry Dierker
Tell us what your day-to-day looks like.
What’s my day-to-day—well, my day is to talk to you. Then I have a meeting with a company that I’m working with to launch a website. That should be coming online sometime in the next week, and so we’re looking at it and putting the finishing touches and edits on that.
What’s the website going to be?
It’s going to be a combination of a lot of things, all of them having to do with baseball. Most of what I will do will be editorial in nature, in terms of things that are current with a lot of historical material, stories and memories that I have.
So you’ll also be writing?
Yep. It’s just nothing but entertainment for people who like baseball and specifically the Astros because I’ve been with them all my life. But I’m going to try to make it interesting by writing about other stuff besides the Astros.
What kind of other stuff?
For example, baseball is experimenting with new rules about how many times a manager, infielders or a catcher can come to the pitcher at the mound. So they’re trying to do things to move the game ahead a little faster. They’re concerned about the pace of the game in the modern world. These days you have to keep things moving.
Why did you decide to stay in Houston?
Houston has grown so much since I moved here that it’s not even the same city. I got here in ‘65—that was my first full year here—and I moved here year-round in ‘67. When I was growing up in LA, the suburbs where we lived had subdivisions, but they also had farms and ranches. So when I moved to Houston it was that way. If you came to Jersey Village, there would be open land between here and the 610 loop. Now you go another 10 miles out to 99 and there are still subdivisions out there. I’m not really thrilled the fact that Houston has grown so much because it makes things less convenient, but on the other hand, I find the people here and in Texas in general to be very friendly. When [Hurricane] Harvey happened last year and the way people responded to that, it just showed me that people care about their neighbors and the city, and they were willing to spend significant amounts of time when they could be doing something for themselves to get out and do work for free for someone they don’t know. That shows me a lot. That was one of the things I wrote about recently. It says something about this city.
Where’s your preferred lunch spot around town?
My preferred lunch spot around here, even though I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite restaurant, is the Backyard Grill. I know the owner, and I really like the guy; he’s so generous. He participates in every fundraiser for every worthwhile effort. I’ve been involved in Cy-Hope, which is very active in the entire Cypress school district. We’re doing all sorts of things for kids who are disadvantaged in one way or another. And he’s done all kinds of things for that. He caters events for free, and he does so much for the community. And the restaurant is good! It’s American food where you just have 100 things on the menu. There’s a lot, so you can find something that’s good.
Tell me more about Cy-Hope. How are you involved with that?
The idea was to help kids who needed help, but then obviously in order to accomplish that you need to identify what they needed help with. So we have programs to address those ends. They have a backpack program where kids get free lunches, and they have after-school childcare programs.
I have a program called Dierker’s Champs, and it’s baseball-oriented in the elementary and middle school area. Baseball is complicated, and it requires various skills, so our role is to find the kids that can’t afford to play in the local sports association or pay for the equipment, and we provide all that—the equipment, the field, the umpires. Everyone volunteers, and we play games throughout March and April, and the kids get exposed to baseball. The crux of the effort is to let kids experience what it’s like being on a team and have responsibility for showing up and paying attention to the coach and enjoying fun with friends. Just being part of the team.
When [Hurricane] Harvey happened last year and the way people responded to that, it just showed me that people care about their neighbors and the city…