Charley Steiner Announces World Series Games for LA Dodgers

(Photo Provided)

October 19, 2017

By:  Kirk Wessler

Journal Star Sports Editor

CHICAGO — Charley Steiner is living the dream.

He grew up in 1950s New York and became a Brooklyn Dodgers fan as he listened on the radio in the family kitchen to the great Vin Scully, calling the play by play. He knew almost immediately that’s what he wanted to do.

And today, that’s what Steiner is doing. The biggest difference is the Dodgers now play in Los Angeles, but that’s just details.

“Goosebumps,” Steiner said Wednesday, leaning back in a chair next to his booth in the pressbox at Wrigley Field, where the Dodgers were hoping to close out the Cubs in the National League Championship Series.

How did he get here?

Steiner chose Bradley University to pursue his college education in the late 1960s and early ’70s. He immediately checked in at the Student Center to join the campus radio station, later cut his reporting teeth at Peoria’s WIRL-AM radio, graduated in 1971 and began climbing the ladder. ESPN hired him in 1988. The Yankees plucked him to be their play-by-play guy in 2001, and the Dodgers called three years after that, asking if he would be interested in joining their broadcast team.

His response, he swears, was something we can’t print verbatim. It involved an “F” bomb and the letter “A,” and he recalls tagging on “Bubba.”

That’s the short version of a story that’s been told and retold and never fails to elicit a laugh. If you don’t laugh, Steiner will, because ... well, he had no Plan B if his radio dream washed out. And now he’s a famous guy with famous friends and a big-time gig and enough money to donate more than $1 million to Bradley, which promptly named the Charley Steiner School of Sports Communication in his honor.

He readily admits to formerly rolling his eyes when people talked about “giving back” to their school or community. But Steiner is 68 years old now, profoundly grateful for his career and believes that without Bradley, he might have been forced to find a Plan B.

With Bradley having a perennial top-20 national powerhouse basketball program when he arrived on campus, and with BU and the Peoria market having churned out some of the great voices in national sportscasting history — Jack Brickhouse, Chick Hearn, Tom Kelly, Bill King and more — “there was a unique quality to the school” and what it offered a kid with big dreams, Steiner said.

And he still has big dreams. He envisions the Steiner School competing for students and graduate prestige with the likes of powerhouse programs at Northwestern and Syracuse.

One way to build that is through the Steiner Symposium, the third annual edition of which is scheduled for the BU campus on Nov. 7.

Among the nationally renowned sports communication professionals — writers, broadcasters, producers, et al — on the docket are Bob Nightengale of USA Today; native Peorian, former Sports Illustrated writer and now Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander; retired Olympics reporter Phil Hersh, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch baseball columnist Rick Hummel.

And Larry King, a close friend of Steiner and arguably the best interviewer in the history of radio.

Also appearing will be native Peorian and 2006 Olympic figure skater Matt Savoie and Bradley grad/former Journal Star reporter Brad Burke, who conceived and produced a Peabody Award-winning viral video last year that pointed intense light on the vulgar, sexist harassment of female sports journalists on social media. Burke will be joined by one of the journalists from his video, Julie DiCaro.

“The good part of being in the business as long as I have is I’ve gotten to know a lot of people and become friends with them,” Steiner said. “And everybody I’ve asked to be part of this has said, ‘Yes.’” I’ve gotten to know a lot of people,” Steiner said, “and I’ve been very lucky that when I ask them to do this, they say, 'Yes'".

Word is getting around about the quality of the symposium, and Steiner said he’s getting inquiries from journalists who want to be part of it. In fact, he said, Hummel asked if he could come to be part of the panel on storytelling.

“I’m not going to tell a Baseball Hall of Fame writer there’s no room for him,” Steiner said, laughing again.

Those goosebumps he gets when he calls Dodgers games ... Steiner said he gets them, too, when he thinks about his name on the Bradley sports communications school and the impact his money and efforts are having on the lives of students.

“And it’s just,” he said, chuckling again, “Wow!”

Kirk Wessler is Journal Star sports editor. Contact him at kwessler@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @KirkWessler.

Posted with permission PJ Star