From Scully to Steiner:

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - INSIDE - Tom Kraso­vic Spe­cial to USA TO­DAY

The boy who once lis­tened to the leg­end in his mother’s Long Is­land kitchen now finds him­self broad­cast­ing Dodgers games in his own unique way.

Thanks to base­ball, Vin Scully and Charley Steiner are friends. But “friends” un­der­states it. Scully, with­out try­ing to, in­spired Steiner to set a life course.

Sixty years later, when­ever a flash­back hits him, Steiner marvels over how it worked out.

The Dodgers were the Brook­lyn Dodgers then.

Scully called their games on the ra­dio.

In Long Is­land was the boy Charley, hun­kered down in his mother’s kitchen, lis­ten­ing to a brown Zenith ra­dio.

It was very 1950s. Lis­ten­ers heard not only Scully’s base­ball talk but also the ball­park ven­dors hawk­ing their pop­corn and soda pop. The ra­dio, Charley said, seemed as big as the kitchen.

One day with his mother’s as­sis­tance, it dawned on the boy that call­ing Dodgers games was an ac­tual job.

This was not a dis­cov­ery unique to the boy, nor was the seed it planted.

Charley de­cided he’d be­come a Dodgers broad­caster some­day. Per­haps, he would work along­side this man whose voice poured through the brown Zenith ra­dio.

One can imag­ine thou­sands of other mes­mer­ized boys in the New York bor­oughs and be­yond, hatch­ing sim­i­lar plans.

Steiner would be­come a sports broad­caster on the East Coast and would shoot up the ranks. His em­ploy­ers would in­cluded a four-let­ter fledg­ling TV sports net­work in Con­necti­cut — ESPN.

Deep into his ca­reer, which in­cluded a stop in the Yan­kees ra­dio booth next to John Ster­ling, the Dodgers called.

They wanted Steiner as their ra­dio play-by-play man.

In the TV booth next to him would be Scully, wind­ing down a leg­endary ca­reer. All these years later, he was the “poet lau­re­ate” of base­ball broad­cast­ing, as the now late Dick En­berg, one of the play-by-play greats him­self, called him.

Steiner, now 68, would be­come a friend, col­league, mentee and daily din­ner com­pan­ion to the Hall of Fame broad­caster while fol­low­ing the Dodgers across the coun­try for 12 years. The two dined to­gether more than 1,000 times, Steiner fig­ures.

This month, while re­count­ing his real-life fairy tale, Steiner laughed at how pre­pos­ter­ous it must ap­pear to out­siders.

“So,” he said from a Phoenix ho­tel room, where he was jot­ting down notes for the game to come sev­eral hours later, “I’m hav­ing the time of my life.”

Ir­re­place­able

Tread lightly, though, when con­nect­ing any dots be­tween Scully’s re­tire­ment af­ter the 2016 sea­son fol­low­ing his 67th year of call­ing Dodgers games and the piece of his work­load that fell on Steiner and broad­cast part­ner Rick Mon­day.

The ra­dio team took on the ini­tial three in­nings that Scully had han­dled on the ra­dio-TV simul­casts.

Swal­low the R-word — or you will get an in­cred­u­lous snort from Steiner when the words “re­place” and “Scully” oc­cupy the same ten­ta­tive query.

“They still haven’t re­placed Babe Ruth, they haven’t re­placed the Bea­tles, they haven’t re­placed Muham­mad Ali,” he said.

“So, you don’t even go there. They still box, they still play base­ball, they still play mu­sic. I go out and an­nounce a base­ball game.”

His pow­er­ful, lilt­ing voice punc­tu­at­ing words for em­pha- sis, Steiner fin­ished off his re­sponse.

“I never, ever, thought of my­self re­plac­ing any­body or any­thing. I just came out to do what I wanted to do as a kid, and that’s an­nounce for the Dodgers. Never, did I ever think, ‘Ooh, I’m fill­ing in for Vin.’ Never. No­body does, and any­body who thinks that is a mo­ron.”

As the ballplay­ers do when talk­ing about their work, Steiner talks of main­tain­ing a sim­ple ap­proach to his craft. Do your best. Tune out what you can’t con­trol.

“I al­ways thought of this job as an honor and still do,” he

said. “I’m part of that lin­eage that be­gan with Red Bar­ber, Vin Scully, Mo, Jaime,” he said, the lat­ter two be­ing Mon­day and Dodgers Span­ish-lan­guage broad­caster and Hall of Famer hon­oree Jaime Jar­rin.

“Some­how, they al­lowed me into this very ex­clu­sive club, and I try not to make a mess.”

Set aside pom-poms

Greater Los An­ge­les is the coun­try’s sec­ond-largest me­dia mar­ket, a fac­tor in the Dodgers’ abil­ity to out­spend most other ball­clubs. A TV deal the Dodgers struck late in Scully’s ca­reer en­sured mas­sive rev­enue would pour into the fran­chise for many years to come. How­ever, a stale­mate be­tween rights-holder and dis­trib­u­tors has re­duced the avail­abil­ity of the tele­casts.

Some fans who are un­able to see the tele­casts have turned to Steiner and Mon­day, a for­mer out­fielder who had a 19-year ca­reer in the big leagues.

Other lis­ten­ers just pre­fer to fol­low the Dodgers on the ra­dio, TV or no TV.

Steiner is worth a lis­ten, said long­time South­ern Cal­i­for­nia news­pa­per colum­nist Mark Whicker.

“I think he’s very good,” Whicker said. “He weaves in a lot of per­spec­tive but is never dis­en­gaged from the game. I also think he’s very good on the tech­ni­cal part of game-call­ing. He’s com­fort­able to lis­ten to.”

Jon Weis­man is a lis­tener who, as care­taker of the ven­er­a­ble blog Dodgers Thoughts, which he cre­ated in 2002, has gleaned what nu­mer­ous other Dodgers fans think of the ra­dio broad­casts un­der Steiner and Mon­day that date to 2005.

Weis­man, for his part, is in the pro-Steiner camp.

“I like Charley be­cause he seems to truly love base­ball with­out tak­ing it too se­ri­ously,” said Weis­man, who wrote a re­cently re­leased book, Broth­ers in Arms: Ko­ufax, Ker­shaw, and the Dodgers’ Ex­tra­or­di­nary Pitch­ing Tra­di­tion.

Steiner’s can­dor is part of the ap­peal.

“He’s not afraid to say a long dull game is a long dull game,” Weis­man said, “but he gen­uinely gets ex­cited for the good stuff, and so I ap­pre­ci­ate that out of him. I hon­estly think he has a good flair for be­ing a base­ball an­nouncer, and he’s an orig­i­nal an­nouncer. He’s own his guy.”

Weis­man said Steiner “is a lit­tle too much on his own wave­length” for some Dodgers fans.

“But,” he said, “I guess I would say that ev­ery broad­caster, short of Vin, has that semi-you-like-him-or-you-don’t el­e­ment to it.”

In style, a sim­i­lar­ity be­tween Scully and Steiner is nar­ra­tion al­most en­tirely de­void of the home-team par­ti­san­ship that one might hear from sev­eral other broad­casts teams that cover one big-league club.

“I leave the pom-poms at home,” Steiner said.

He said the same ap­proach served him well as both a foot­ball and base­ball play-by-play broad­caster in the North­east.

Weis­man sug­gested that the ma­jor­ity of Dodgers fans wouldn’t have it any other way be­cause they were groomed to ap­pre­ci­ate a broader-spec­trum broad­cast.

“I per­son­ally don’t hear the com­plaints that (Steiner) is not enough of a par­ti­san,” he said. “Look, peo­ple in L.A. were raised on Vin. And, Vin wasn’t that way. I don’t think any­one lis­ten­ing to the broad­cast here ex­pects what I take to be like a Hawk Har­rel­son kind of thing, be openly root­ing.”

As for the no­tion of Scully be­ing re­placed, Weis­man doesn’t buy it, ei­ther. He noted that Scully’s work­load had ta­pered off in the years ahead of his re­tire­ment. By the time Scully worked his fi­nal Dodgers tele­cast in Oc­to­ber 2016, the tan­dem of Steiner and Mon­day had well-estab­lished their ra­dio iden­tity, Weis­man said.

Steiner said he chats with Scully ev­ery month.

But he misses see­ing him at the ball­park and din­ing with him be­fore games.

In the me­dia food room at Dodger Sta­dium, the team had set aside a ta­ble for Scully, Steiner, Mon­day and Billy DeLury, a Dodgers trav­el­ing sec­re­tary and team em­ployee for 66 years.

DeLury died in April 2015 at 81.

“It was just four guys and then three guys just talk­ing about life and base­ball, and more life and some base­ball — that’s what I miss,” Steiner said. “Now, Mo’s stuck with me.”

Base­ball is still the abid­ing con­stant for Steiner, whose jour­ney last year went through Game 7 of the fran­chise’s first World Se­ries since 1988.

He proudly called him­self an old school broad­caster.

Al­though ad­vanced base­ball an­a­lyt­ics are a sta­ple to Dodgers op­er­a­tions and in­creas­ingly a part of na­tional broad­casts, Steiner said he has plenty of other ma­te­rial to choose from that suits his sto­ry­telling and de­scrip­tive style.

Yet he mar­veled at how the In­ter­net Age has ex­panded his au­di­ence to, say, a Dodgers fan “tend­ing the sheep in Botswana.”

Other than when on the road, he walks 3 miles a day. He puts in about five hours of re­search be­fore games and calls about 155 games a sea­son.

“I can’t imag­ine do­ing any­thing else — not at this late date,” he said. “Talk about be­ing grand­fa­thered in. I am a sin­gle guy, which makes it con­sid­er­ably eas­ier. It’s one of these things where, I wouldn’t know what else to do. Shoot, I’m go­ing to be 69 in July.

“I’m rid­ing on the horse, I’m still upright, and hav­ing a ball.”

In his Los An­ge­les home is a re­minder of the jour­ney’s be­gin­ning, cour­tesy of a mom-andpop shop in In­di­ana.

It’s a replica of the brown Zenith ra­dio, in the Long Is­land kitchen.

2014 PHOTO BY KIRBY LEE/USA TO­DAY

Lis­ten­ing to Vin Scully, cen­ter, call Brook­lyn Dodgers games while grow­ing up in Long Is­land in­spired Charley Steiner, left, to get into broad­cast­ing and even­tu­ally work with Vin Scully in L.A. At right is Dodgers pres­i­dent Stan Kas­ten.

KIRBY LEE/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Long­time broad­caster Charley Steiner has called Dodgers games on ra­dio and/or TV for the team since 2005.

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