FORMER HUTCHINSON BLUE DRAGON ANDY DIRKS READY FOR WORLD SERIESOctober 24, 2012
By Steve Carpenter, HCC Sports Information Director
Seven years ago, Andy Dirks’ back was up against the centerfield wall at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium making a game-saving catch to propel the Hutchinson Community College baseball team into the 2005 NJCAA World Series.
In his two seasons at Wichita State University, Dirks led the Shockers to the brink of the College World Series twice with appearances in the Super Regionals.
Now, the former HCC All-Conference outfielder will be starting Game 1 of the 2012 MLB World Series for the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Detroit needed five games to dispose of the Oakland Athletics in the American League Division Series and then swept the New York Yankees in the ALCS. Dirks has appeared in nine games in this postseason, going 11 for 35 (.257).
Against Oakland, Dirks was 5 for 17 (.294) with a double and stolen base. Against the Yankees, Dirks was 4 for 18 with a double and an RBI. In Game 4, Dirks had three hits, singlehandedly out-hitting the Yankees in the series clincher.
There was question to the status of Dirks for Games 1 and 2, which will be played in San Francisco without the Designated Hitter. But Detroit manager Jim Leyland said Dirks will start in right field in Game 1 against Giants left-hander Barry Zito. ALCS Most Valuable Player and normal DH Delmon Young will start in left field, where Dirks normally plays.
With players like pitcher Justin Verlander, first baseman Prince Fielder and American League Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera grabbing most of the headlines, Dirks normally works in their shadows.
That’s just fine with Dirks.
“You don’t need to have any pity for me,” Dirks told the Detroit Free-Press in a published story. “I don’t have to say a word, and I’m already having the time of my life.”
The 2012 calendar year has been a whirlwind year for Dirks.
He played winter ball in the Dominican Republic and led his Leones del Escogido team to the Dominican championship. Dirks delivered the game-winning hit in the series clincher.
Dirks then made the Tigers’ 25-man roster out of spring training, but injuries slowed his progress. During the regular-season, he hit .322 with 56 runs, 101 hits, 18 doubles, five triples and eight home runs. But his missed 55 straight games with an injury.
“It’s been a crazy season in that there was a time there when I couldn’t stay healthy,” Dirks told the Detroit Free-Press. “You start wondering if it would ever come around. But here I am getting ready for the World Series and hoping to make any contribution I can.”
He returned to the Tigers’ lineup on August 3 and went 2 for 4 with a RBI against Cleveland. After his return, Dirks hit .295 (28 for 95) with three homers and eight RBIs. The Tigers, who trailed the Chicago White Sox for most of the season, clinched the AL Central title in Kansas City. Dirks played in two of the three games and had three hits in the series.
Dirks was an instrumental member of HCC’s 2005 Region VI Championship team that competed in the Juco World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.
While at HCC, The Blue Dragons compiled an 82-35 record in Dirks’ two seasons.
Dirks had a .374 career batting average with the Blue Dragons (113 for 302) with 13 career home runs and 78 career RBIs. Dirks had 21 doubles and eight triples while scoring 78 runs and stealing 40 bases.
As a freshman, Dirks hit .341 (57 for 167) with 11 doubles, three triples and two homers while driving in 26 runs. Dirks hit .415 as a sophomore with 10 doubles, five triples and 11 homers. He scored 59 runs, stole 30 bases and had 52 RBIs.
The 2005 team finished in a four-way tie for the Jayhawk West championship and Region VI championship and the 2006 team won the conference outright and went 44-13.
Dirks was first-team All-Jayhawk West and first-team all-Region VI as a sophomore.
Dirks continues to rank high in several single-season and career Blue Dragon categories.
From HCC, Dirks moved onto Wichita State. Dirks has gained plenty of national attention with his streak of reaching base safely in 73 consecutive games and a hitting streak of 29 games, which is the fourth-longest in Shocker history.
Dirks earned first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference honors and all-regional tournament honors.