Larry Andersen famously brought us Jeff Bagwell, but that’s not exactly where the story ends.
Larry Andersen played during a glorious era of Astros baseball, back in the mid-80s, when yucking it up in the clubhouse occurred as frequently as winning on the field. In 1986, the Astros had plenty of both.
Andersen was a fan favorite in Houston during the time he played here, both for his tenacity on the mound and for his fun-loving and boisterous personality that allowed him to say just about anything without the worry of embarrassing himself later.
That’s why it’s always fun when the Phillies are town, because 10 times out of 10, you’ll see Andersen, now a long-time broadcaster with Philadelphia, hanging around the Astros’ clubhouse, where he still has plenty of friends among the support staff in there.
We all know by now the famous connection Andersen has to Jeff Bagwell — the two were swapped at the trade deadline in 1990, with Andersen going to the Red Sox and Bagwell, a little-known Minor League third baseman, going to the Astros.
That one worked out pretty well for the Astros, obviously, which only adds to the popularity of the former relief pitcher. But did you know Andersen is also responsible for the presence of another extremely popular figure in the Astros family?
Way, way back in the stone age of 1996, Larry Dierker was hired as the Astros manager, which opened a spot in the broadcast booth. Jim Deshaies, who had retired a little over a year earlier, called Dierker simply to offer his congratulations. Dierker, who was being bombarded with phone calls from former teammates and colleagues wanting to be considered for his Major League coaching staff, half-jokingly said to J.D., “What should I mark you down for?”
Deshaies laughed and assured Dierker the phone call was of a congratulatory nature and nothing else. But Dierker said, “You know, I think you might be a good candidate for the broadcasting job.”
J.D. was lukewarm on the idea but later did have discussions with the Astros about the possibility. The talks basically went nowhere, mainly because the Astros were courting other former players for the job — including Larry Andersen.
Andersen flew to Houston, interviewed with Drayton McLane and his top executives and was ultimately offered the job. But Andersen also had an opportunity to be the pitching coach for the Phillies’ Triple-A club, and he chose to take that position instead.
Long story longer, the Astros circled back with Deshaies and eventually, J.D. got the broadcasting gig. Directly or indirectly, however you choose to view it, we have Andersen to thank for two of the Astros’ best-ever: Bagwell and Deshaies.
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