Dierker named special assistant to Astros president
Former pitcher, manager had been with organization for more than 50 years
HOUSTON -- It didn't take new Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan long to make good on his promise to bring some players back into the organization.
The Astros announced Tuesday that former player, manager and broadcaster Larry Dierker would be returning to the team as an advisor to Ryan and a goodwill ambassador, handling speaking endeavors and engaging with fans at Minute Maid Park. Dierker will also contribute to the club's Gameday Magazine.
"He was the Houston Astros for so many people," Ryan said. "I think you have to have him back, and we had to build this network with ex-players, guys from each generation. And he's the face of that generation, and we wanted to get him back here with us."
Dierker had been part of the organization for more than 50 years before having a public fallout with the team in the offseason. One of the first things Ryan did when he was hired was call Dierker -- and some other former players -- to gauge their interest in helping the organization.
The deal with Dierker was finalized after a 90-minute meeting with owner Jim Crane and Dierker on Tuesday morning.
"Larry was the Houston Astros when I was a kid," Ryan said. "He's opinionated and not afraid to tell it like it is, and that's how I like to work. I like to have people that challenge me and make me better, and he's going to do all those things.
"I called him the other day and said, 'Hey, what do you think about doing some things for us?' He said, 'Yeah, I'd love to.'"
Alas, Dierker won't be able to jump into the job right away. He has a prior commitment in Austin and will miss the rest of the homestand, but he plans to be a frequent face at the ballpark for the rest of the season.
"Essentially, I think for this year it's just to help out and put a good face on the direction we're going," Dierker said. "I like to speak and I like to write, and I'm going to speak and write in this position and I really wasn't doing much of that last year. It's nothing too specific. It's more whatever I can do help them."
Dierker, 66, managed the Astros from 1997-2001. He was named National League Manager of the Year in '98. He made his Major League debut on his 18th birthday with the Astros, tallied 137 wins as a pitcher for the franchise and earned two All-Star Game nods.
"He loves being at the ballpark, and he's going to be at the ballpark again and mingle with the fans," Ryan said. "He said, 'Reid, I'm here to do what you need me to,' and I said, 'Larry, I'm going to utilize you.' Larry connects with so many people."
Dierker was thrilled to see Ryan get hired.
"He was the perfect guy," Dierker said. "It never crossed my mind when [former Astros CEO and president] George [Postolos] left he could be the successor and I don't know why, because he's got the perfect set of skills, both in terms of personality and trying to get through this thing with some positive energy. And he also has the experience of having run a baseball team. Although it's a Minor league team, he's been running baseball teams for 10 years or more."