Don't look now but Dodgers have a new doctor in the house -- Charley Steiner
So how did you spend your baseball offseason?
Find a white-sand beach, put on a few .lbs, take up Texas hold ’em, fall deeply in love with Snooki?
Charley Steiner went out and became Charles Harris Steiner, PhD.
It’s true, our very own Dodgers broadcaster gave the commencement speech last month at his alma mater, Bradley University, and was presented with an honorary doctorate.
"It was among the coolest 24 hours I have ever spent," Steiner said.
Steiner was a 1971 graduate of Bradley, which has produced a stunning number of successful sports broadcasters.
"Here are some of the sportscasters that came out of there -- Jack Brickhouse [Cubs], Chick Hearn, Ralph Lawler, Bill King, Tom Kelly, Mark Holtz [Texas Rangers], Bob Starr and I’m the caboose on that train.
"When I went there, who knew? There was no program. Absolute coincidence.
"So they established a new sports broadcasting journalism school there -- now in its second year -- because of this incredible happenstance."
But it was Steiner whom Bradley, a 6,000-student private university in Peoria, Ill., asked to give the commencement speech on Dec. 18. Steiner seemed genuinely humbled by the honor.
He said the entire experience was almost dream-like, and was still moved by the experience a month later.
"They had this wonderful dinner for me the night before," he said. "They presented a newspaper column that I wrote in 1970, a music review of a relatively new blues guitarist named B.B. King.
"They had a picture of me when I was 20 years old, when I was 40 years old and when I was 60 years old. Then they gave me a microphone that we used at the college radio station in 1967 and put it on this wooden (stand), and gave me a baseball jersey.
"Then I did the commencement speech. Which I didn’t want to screw up too badly, because I’m guessing it’s the only one I’ll ever do. And it went pretty well. The nicest part was the ovation was ... louder at the end than it was when I was introduced. Which means one of two things: Either I was pretty good or they were thrilled it was over. I’m betting the latter, but I prefer to think the former."
You can view the commencement here. It’s worth it just to see him in a cap and gown, tassel included. If you just want to skip ahead to his speech, fast-forward to the 50-minute mark.
Steiner told the graduates he grew up listening to Vin Scully on the radio in New York and fantasized about one day calling Dodgers games.
"Now I’m living the dream," he said.
Favorite moment: "The older I get, the smarter my parents become."
Steiner told students he was exactly like the rest of them when he graduated, and although there were many things he did not have control over when he left Bradley, there were those he did:
"My work ethic, willingness to get my fingernails dirty, take risks, be willing to sacrifice, and to ride to the back of the bus if need be if that’s what it took to get to my destination."
He concluded his speech by quoting English playwright Tom Stoppard: "Every exit is an entry to somewhere else."
Then came the ovation, the passing out of diplomas, and later at a reception, a question-and-answer period with Steiner.
"It could not have been any better," Steiner said. "It was an out-of-body experience."
-- Steve Dilbeck