Former Tiger Dirks settling down in Clarkston

Andy Dirks played for the Detroit Tigers from 2011 to 2013 and, even in his new career as a local realtor, still finds time to talk baseball in his downtown Clarkston office. Photo by Matt Mackinder

BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer

Looking to buy or sell a house in Clarkston? You may be lucky enough to deal with a former Detroit Tigers outfielder.
Andy Dirks, who played for the Tigers from 2011 to 2013, going to the World Series in 2012, is now a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway’s Clarkston office, located at 20 S. Washington Street.
“This is really my second full year in Michigan in real estate,” said Dirks, a 33-year-old originally from Hutchinson, Kansas. “We’ve been doing really well, especially for being newer into the business. It’s no shock; everybody knows what I did before, and it doesn’t take much for someone to do a background check to know I haven’t been doing real estate for 20 years. I was playing ball only a few years ago, but it was a really good transition going from baseball to real estate.”
Drafted by the Tigers in the eighth round of the 2008 amateur draft, Dirks was called up to the majors for the first time on May 13, 2011. He made his debut three days later going 1 for 2 with a walk against the Toronto Blue Jays. He hit his first major league home run on May 23, 2011 at Comerica Park off Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson.
The primary left fielder for the Tigers in 2013, Dirks played in 131 games, hitting .256 with nine home runs and 37 runs batted in. On Sept. 21, the Tigers defeated the Chicago White Sox 7-6 after trailing 6-0 in the ninth inning. Dirks had a key hit in the Tigers’ six-run ninth, a pinch-hit three-run homer to pull the Tigers to 6-5.
Following the 2013 season, Dirks was named a finalist for the Gold Glove Award for the left field position alongside Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals and Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland A’s. (The award went to Gordon.)
Then back injuries started to pile up and Dirks was done after the 2013 season. He signed with Toronto in January 2015 only to be released that April.
Over 297 career games, Dirks hit .276 with 268 hits, 24 home runs and 100 RBI.
“I had one back surgery in 2014 and another in 2015 and then in 2016, I tried to give (baseball) another shot, but my back wasn’t holding up,” Dirks said. “The surgeon said I should look into doing something else. I’ve always been into home construction and that sort of stuff, so that’s how I got into real estate. And I like people, so everything just worked out well.”
Still, was being told his baseball career was done a shock for Dirks?
“I’ve always been a forward-thinking individual and learning through sports and adversity and all the trials that go with it that there’s really nothing you can do about it,” he said. “I look at it like, ‘What a great opportunity and how cool is that?’ How cool is it that a kid from Kansas in a town of 1,200 that lived eight miles out of town played at Comerica Park? I loved the city. I was a blue-collar player, hustling, running into walls. My M.O. kind of fit the city and the fans liked that.
“When it was over, it took a second, it dwindled down. It wasn’t just one play that ended my career. After the surgeries, I had some time to think about it.”
Dirks also said that he only knows one current player on the Tigers, Miguel Cabrera, and offered his thoughts on the current state of the club.
“They’ve got guys, but man, their baseball IQs are bad, as far as playing the game,” said Dirks. “We don’t have the stars or the bats to back it up and then we’re not playing good defense and I’m like, man, this is bad. We’re in trouble, but we knew that coming in and it’ll be a couple years. They’ve got some guys who are going to be players, just not right now.”
Advice for youth baseball players and their parents is something Dirks was willing to share as well.
“For the players, understand why you are playing – are you playing because your mom or dad wants you to, or to hang out with your buddies, which is fine,” said Dirks. “Just be real and understand the benefits that can come out of it. Sometimes, you might not want to play and that may only last a game or two. Just give it a chance.
“For the parents, and it’s so hard today, but people will tell you that by not giving your kid this opportunity or another opportunity, that they’ll be behind and won’t have a chance. I wouldn’t let that music play in my ears. I would judge it off of the interest your kid is showing. Take it a day, a season, at a time. Just enjoy it. Have fun with the whole experience.”
Now living in a subdivision near Sashabaw and Waldon roads with his wife of almost five years, Megan, son Deacon, 4, and daughters Madison, 2, and Palmer, 9 months, Dirks is immersing himself in the local community.
“My wife is from Bloomfield and I was here once during my playing career and I remembered Clarkston being a really cool city,” said Dirks. “I’m more of a small-town guy and when I was here then, I think the town was smaller than it is now. When we started looking (at houses), this is still close to downtown (Detroit) but still kind of close to the country with that smaller town feel, all that played into it. Just meeting some people in town, we realized that, yeah, this is the spot.
“I see why people want to be in here. We’re here for the long haul.”