Lawrence Edward Dierker (born September 22, 1946, in Hollywood, California) is a former Major League Baseball pitcher and manager. 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. Drafted 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.
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 brush with death during a game against the San Diego Padres. He had been plagued with severe headaches for several days. During the game, Dierker had a seizure that left him unconscious. He required emergency brain surgery for a cavernous angioma and after four weeks of recovery, returned to the Astros and led the team through the season. The Astros won 97 games and a third consecutive National League Central Division title.
He currently serves as a community outreach executive for the Astros. Dierker has also wrote a book titled “This Ain’t Brain Surgery”, detailing his baseball career as a pitcher and a manager. He later wrote “My Team”, in which he remembered the greatest players he’d seen in his years of baseball.
On May 19, 2002, the Astros honored Dierker, retiring his No. 49 jersey.