The Man Himself: Charles Steinberg Interview Part One


William Walker, Staff Writer

This article refers to a two-part interview I had with Charles Steinberg, in which I ask him about his life and his MLB-related trips to China and other places. This article is about his career, while a pending article is about his international trips with an MLB clubhouse.

Dr. Charles Steinberg is a fascinating individual. In his senior year of high school, Steinberg received a summer internship to work with his hometown team in the Baltimore Orioles. This internship later became a 19-year career with the team, as Dr. Steinberg upgraded to the head of public relations (the ballpark event planner). After his Orioles tenure, Steinberg then went on to captain public relations for the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Boston Red Sox, setting attendance records for each team, and orchestrating infamous events such as David Ortiz’s Boston Marathon speech, and the celebration of Padres legend Tony Gwinn. In 2015, Steinberg became the President of the Pawtucket Red Sox (Now the Worcester Red Sox), the AAA minor league affiliate of the Red Sox, and is currently the president of the team while simultaneously working as a college professor at Emerson College.

A few months ago, one of my family friends had a business meeting with Dr. Steinberg. As they conversed, Steinberg spoke about how this year was the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 15th anniversary where they play exhibition games in China, and how he was a part of the first team that went. Prompted by that statement, my family friend started to speak of my Chinese and sports journalistic prowess, to which Steinberg replied stating that he would love for me to interview him. After a couple of months of preparation, I was finally able to interview the man himself.

Dr. Steinberg was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. When asked about his childhood, Steinberg stated that it was “happy” and “typical”. Steinberg attended Gilman High School in Baltimore, Maryland. He spoke highly of his former school, stating that Gilman was “[comparable] to DeMatha,” as it “opened [him] up to more possibilities.” Gilman High School offered Steinberg a one-month internship to work for an MLB team in the Baltimore Orioles. In his own words, Steinberg stated, “What I thought was only going to be a month turned into 47 years.”

Dr. Steinberg had a wonderful tenure with the Orioles. When asked to describe how it was, Steinberg stated that it was “great” due to the fact that he was able to work and “live at home with [his] mom and dad”. Being able to work while in close proximity to his parents boosted his morale, as Steinberg happily stated that for each day he would “drive to the ballpark, and then drive home after the game.” Another reason why Steinberg had a great tenure in Baltimore was that he also served as the team dentist. Steinberg aspired to become a dentist, stating that he worked “through high school, college, and dental school” to become one. However, after baseball overtook his love of dentistry, Steinberg decided to mainly pursue “baseball work” and kept dentistry as “part-time”. Because he was already on staff with Baltimore and had knowledge of dental work, the Orioles decided to hire Steinberg as their dentist. When looking back at his time in Baltimore, Steinberg jovially described it as “a childhood dream” due to him working for his “hometown team for 19 years.”

Evident by his unprecedented success as head of public relations for the Orioles, Padres, Dodgers, and Red Sox, Steinberg possesses a unique knack for entertainment. When asked to explain what it takes to be successful in MLB entertainment, Steinberg replied stating, “It’s about surrounding yourself with good, right people, including a great teacher.” Steinberg then mentioned his own “teacher” in Larry Lucchino.

Lucchino is a man of many endeavors, working as a lawyer while also being the previous president of the Orioles, Padres, and Red Sox. When they met in Baltimore, Steinberg stated in his own words, “I understood him, and he understood me.” Steinberg also realized that Lucchino was great for him, stating that Lucchino was extra-critical to him in order to “help [him] achieve excellence.” To this day, Steinberg stated that Lucchino is still his mentor and that they’ve “been together for 43 years.”

With Lucchino guiding him, Dr. Steinberg thought of and produced multiple ballpark events that are iconic in MLB history. When asked what his favorite event he orchestrated was, Steinberg mentioned the David Ortiz Boston Marathon speech as “the most important [event].” When asked to explain why, Steinberg stated due to him being “able to connect to fans in such an emotional way.” This event was thought of after the tragic Boston marathon bombing in 2013, in which two bombers planted bombs at a marathon, killing three and wounding 260 people. In a period of uneasiness, Steinberg scheduled a heartfelt speech from Red Sox legend David Ortiz to the Red Sox fans. In his own words, Steinberg compared the energy and atmosphere of Ortiz’s speech to “a papa sitting with his kids at the dinner table telling them to stay strong.”

Despite the mention of the Boston Marathon speech, Dr. Steinberg believes that his favorite event he orchestrated is the closing of Memorial Stadium, which was the Baltimore Orioles’ old stadium. He gave reasoning as to why by saying, “[the closing of Memorial Stadium] was a beautiful ceremony that brought more tears than cheers.” The closing was issued in order for the Orioles’ new stadium, Camden Yards, to be built. Steinberg depicted the influx of tears from people at the ceremony as people who genuinely cared about Memorial Stadium, thus making that event one he will remember forever.

Lastly, in addition to his prolific career in public affairs, Dr. Steinberg is also a talented musician and songwriter. When asked what he would attribute to his many talents, Steinberg credits the “intersection of natural talent and passion”, stating that a balance of talent and passion allows people to “find their genius.”

Initially, Dr. Steinberg was afraid of showcasing his natural talent, stating that he was “scared to perform in front of people.” However, after he received positive feedback from people he inadvertently played a song for, Steinberg finally gained the confidence to publicly perform in front of a crowd. Steinberg recounts the story in his own words:

“I was visiting my best friend in his dorm. He lived in Queen Anne’s dorm (At the University of Maryland), and he had a recreation room in the door, and there was a piano facing the wall… I went in there one day and no one was around, and I went in… and because no one was around, I faced the wall, and I was comfortable playing the piano…but when I finished the song people clapped- I hadn’t known that they had come into the room… I realized that it was a mental skill to relax and play even if people were there… I started to get used to being able to play in front of them because I did it accidentally”.

Dr. Steinberg is a man with multiple industrious careers who thrives off superb leadership and a swift combination of natural talent and passion. Now that we have gained knowledge of who Dr. Steinberg is, it is now time to learn about the international endeavors MLB clubhouses have subjected him to.