As I have written many times before, Rick Stelmaszek joined the Wisconsin Rapids Twins as a Manager in 1978. My family drove up north to see a few games. Rick introduced me to a few of the players, including George Dierberger, who was in his second year of pro ball (and his second year with the WR Twins).
Recently, I located and contacted Dierberger and asked him a few questions. He sits on the Stillwater Area School District School Board.
Q-Your last year was your best year. Why did you leave baseball?
GD-I had a contract dispute with George Brophy. I had a great year and all he wanted to pay me was $600 a month. I felt that I deserved at least $900. I had a triple A contract and most likely was headed to AA. I also asked him what my chances were for the big leagues and he said that I "might" be a back-up in 5 years. I finished my degree and went to work at 3M for the same salary as a rookie big leaguer. About $22,000 a year. That was before free agency....How times have changed!
Q-How did it feel when you first saw yourself on a WR Twins baseball card and when you were first asked for an autograph?
GD-I felt unworthy. It was strange to be asked for an autograph. I never felt like I was anything special.
Q-Several future Twins stars (Gaetti, Hrbek, Eisenreich) played at WR the year after you left. Did you have any contact with them back then and have you kept in contact with any former teammates?
GD-I run into Hrbek now and again and I see Paul Molitor occasionally. He was a teammate at the U. of Minnesota.
Q-How did you transition to the business world after leaving baseball?
GD-I started at 3M in customer service and worked my way through sales, marketing, international and finally into running a few businesses. I received my first graduate degree in 1989 and another in 1996. I then worked on my doctorate for 6 years and was awarded that in 2006. Education is a passion of mine and I love to read. I feel like I am never quite finished as a final product.
Q-You have accomplished a lot post-baseball. What part of your career gets you as excited as being on a field?
GD-Two things, launching a new business and teaching at the college level. I enjoy the students and the interaction with them as the "light bulb" goes on after they grasp a concept or an idea. I always considered myself a bit of a coach on the field (catchers perspective) and that translates will into being a teacher.
Q-Do you follow the Twins now?
GD-Yes, I love watching Joe Mauer hit and the way the Twins play the game. If you have a chance to read "Moneyball" pick it up.....it is a great read.
Q-What is your favorite vacation destination?
GD-Somewhere warm in the winter (Florida) and I love the northeast in the Spring and Summer. Vermont and Maine are two favorites.
George Dierberger then and now (right photo courtesy of Stillwater Public Schools).