Steiner living a dream as Dodgers voice
Announcer tells Chatting Cage about childhood aspirations coming true
When the Dodgers moved across the country from Brooklyn to Los Angeles following the 1957 season, it wasn't just a heartbreaking moment for then-8-year-old Charley Steiner -- it was dream-shattering. Steiner had already decided at his young age that his career goals would revolve around broadcasting for his beloved Dodgers.
On Tuesday -- just more than 55 years after the club played its first home game on the West Coast -- Steiner, now in his ninth season as a member of the Dodgers' radio broadcasting team, was back home in New York preparing to call the Dodgers' series opener against the Mets at Citi Field.
"This is all I ever wanted to be when I grew up. I grew up in New York, the first game I ever went to was at Ebbets Field, the first voice I listened to and wanted to emulate was Vin Scully," said Steiner, who stopped by the MLB.com headquarters to field questions from fans via social media and a live video stream inside the Edward Jones Chatting Cage. "I always wanted to be the Dodgers' announcer, but then they moved when I was 8 years old and my childhood dreams were dashed.
"But thankfully, through serendipity and experience and all of that other stuff, I came to the Dodgers in 2005."
Steiner's modest remark of "all of that other stuff" includes his graduation from Bradley University in 1971, multiple local radio station gigs, two years of calling play-by-play for the New York Jets, a 14-year stint at ESPN and three years in the Yankees' broadcasting booth. Despite boasting the experience of anchoring ESPN's SportsCenter and calling Major League Baseball games on television, Steiner said his true passion has always been radio broadcasting.
"At the end of the day, I just love radio," Steiner said. "And I think most of the guys who are fortunate enough to do both radio and television will say the same thing. Radio and baseball seem to be beautifully interlocked. It's a game that we can all envision."
Even so, it still takes a unique skill set to deliver intriguing nightly radio broadcasts for 162 games each year. With that in mind, Steiner -- who has earned four Emmy Awards for his broadcasting work -- is always open to picking up subtle tips from the industry's best minds.
Fortunately, on top of working alongside Scully for nearly a decade now, Steiner also had the luxury of being a colleague and friend of longtime broadcaster Jon Miller during his tenure at ESPN. To this day, Steiner still recalls one specific piece of advice shared years ago by Miller as the two discussed their approach to broadcasting over dinner in New York.
"Miller said, 'Just tell them everything you see.' And it's pretty much as simple as that on the radio -- whether the clouds are moving in, the stadium is half-empty, the outfield is shifted one way or the other or if something unbelievable is going on," Steiner said. "You just paint the picture as best you can, and hopefully the experience you've accumulated over the years is sufficient so that somebody who's driving on the interstate or freeway can relate to what we're telling them."
Relaying live events as they unfold in such a manner that fans can process every bit of the action without any visual aid is certainly an art form. It is one that Steiner has mastered over the years with the help of his icon. Scully, who began his tenure in the Dodgers' broadcasting booth when Steiner was less than one year old, still possesses that gift unlike any other, according to Steiner.
"The game never comes too quickly for him. He's like the guy in 'The Matrix' where he's pushing off the bullets in slow motion," Steiner said. "Vin's a poet, we're reporters. He's got this extraordinary skill where we just bow and say, 'All right.'
"He's Babe Ruth, and I get to play pepper with Babe Ruth every day."
Steiner's lifelong admiration for Scully remains noticeable to this day, with his face lighting up as he describes his daily interactions with the man who unknowingly guided him into the broadcasting world. The two have dinner together, along with Steiner's radio partner Rick Monday and Dodgers executive Billy DeLury, approximately 115 times a year before games at which they are all working.
It's during that hour each night when Steiner lives out yet another childhood dream, as he sits across the table and discusses life and "all kinds of other stuff" with his childhood idol.
From taking in his first Dodgers game at Ebbets Field to delivering the call on Aaron Boone's walk-off home run at Yankee Stadium in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS to finally coming full circle and working alongside Scully in the Dodgers' broadcasting booth, Steiner is truly living out his childhood dream.
"There's not a day that goes by, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, where I don't pinch myself that I've been able to do what I've done," Steiner said. "And oh, by the way, it really is a lot of fun."