Can’t comPETE with this chief | Braves on the airwaves | Major league fun in the minors
Braves on the airwaves
It’s a rare occurrence in major league baseball when fellow alumni broadcast the same game, but two BU alumni in California are doing just that.
When he was three, ANDY MASUR ’89 sat on his dad’s knee watching Chicago Cubs’ telecasts. “From that point on,” he says, “I wanted to be [Cubs’ broadcaster] JACK BRICKHOUSE ’37 HON ’90.”
CHARLEY STEINER ’71 also caught the broadcasting bug early. “From the time I was seven years old in Long Island,” he says, “the first guy I listened to and wanted to be was [Los Angeles Dodgers’ announcer] Vin Scully.”
Both men reached their goal. Steiner has handled radio play-by-play for the L.A. Dodgers for five seasons. Masur has called San Diego Padres’ games on radio for three years.
So for three seasons at Padres-Dodgers’ games, a Bradley alum called each team’s English-language radio broadcast. Graduates of the same school have announced the same games in the past, but not very often. At least five such occasions involved graduates of Fordham University in New York. Vin Scully participated in three of these situations, says Bob Ahrens of Fordham’s campus radio station, WFUV.
But Masur, the Padres announcer, points out that Bradley with 5,500 students, differs from large schools such as Fordham with an enrollment of 14,600.
“It’s just funny to think of two people from a smaller school in the middle of Illinois sitting in different booths next to each other doing play-by-play,” he says.
Budding broadcast journalists will continue to be nurtured by Bradley’s Department of Communication with its new concentration in sports communication.
“I keep hearing of more and more kids going to Bradley with this interest,” says Masur.
In the press box
Before a recent Padres-Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium, Masur, 42, followed a schedule typical of major league broadcasters. He spent an hour plucking information on other teams from the Internet. Then he arrived at Dodger Stadium at 3 p.m., four hours before game time.
In the stadium press box, Masur sat two open-air broadcasting booths away from Steiner. They viewed the field perched above the second level of stands behind home plate. Rows of luxury boxes flanked them, extending from the press box down the foul lines to the left and right field corners.
The announcers worked at the lower bench in each booth. In front of them were a laptop, scorecard, TV monitor, and pages of facts about the Padres and Dodgers. Behind the broadcasters, an engineer monitored a control board.
Shortly after he arrived, Masur studied the facts provided by the team and copied notes onto his self-designed scorecard. The Padres’ staff maintained contact via text messages and e-mails. A press-pass hanging from his neck, Masur headed for the Padres’ locker room. He needed to tape a three-minute interview with pitcher Jake Peavy for the pregame show.
Masur walked to the dugout for Padres’ manager Bud Black’s press conference. He returned to the booth and transferred more notes, and then visited the press box dining room for a take-out dinner.
Once the game started, Masur worked three innings of play-by-play and four innings as the color analyst with broadcast partners Ted Leitner and Jerry Coleman. Masur says he would not be in the broadcast booth if not for his Bradley experience.
“Bradley had that cachet that helped when you applied for an internship,” he says. His first internship was at Peoria radio station WMBD. After graduation and several more Peoria jobs, he hosted the Chicago Cubs pre- and post-game shows from 1999 to 2006. He began broadcasting Padres games in 2007.
In San Diego, people who discover his occupation are surprised. “Usually they say, ‘That’s cool. You mean you sit up there and talk on the radio?’ ” he says. ”But it opens a can of worms because everyone wants to ask your opinion of the team. Lots of people think they should be doing it [your job]. And they think that they could do it better than you. [They think] that you show up five minutes before a game, crank open the mic, start talking, and leave five minutes after the final out.”
But those critiques don’t diminish his enthusiasm.
“If the season doesn’t start well,” he says, “You think, ‘It’s April and we’ve got five months to go.’ Then you think that you’re one of only 60 people doing this. And it really isn’t work. It’s time-consuming, but it’s not work. That kind of gets you through. You’re still being paid to watch baseball.”
Like Masur, Steiner started his career at the campus radio station. In those days, he says, the radio station was one small room. “But for me that didn’t matter. That room could have been Radio City Music Hall because I could start yakking on the radio.”
Steiner, 60, broadcast Bradley basketball and baseball games on the station and moved on to WIRL radio in Peoria. Eventually, he won two Emmys at ESPN and broadcast New York Yankees games on radio for three years.
When he arrived in Los Angeles in 2005, the Dodgers’ TV announcer was Vin Scully, who had been announcing Dodger games since 1950 in Brooklyn. The American Sportscasters Association voted Scully the top sportscaster of the 20th century. Nevertheless, Steiner says he doesn’t worry about being compared to Scully. “I get to be on the Dodgers’ broadcast team, and in the next booth is the guy I wanted to be like when I was a kid,” Steiner says.
“You’d be hard pressed to get a compelling argument that he’s not the best who’s ever done this. I can’t be another Vin. Nobody can be another Dylan. No one can be another Beatles. My dad told me years ago that you can only control what you can control. All I can do is be the best that I can. Hopefully, that’s good enough. So far in my career, it has been.”
It helps that Steiner loves what he does.
“In New York where I grew up,” he says. “I was taught that after a victory, you should feel joy, satisfaction, or elation. When I was with the Yankees, because of the pressure from George [Steinbrenner], the media, and the fans, the attitude was one of relief. And that wears on you after awhile.
“Oh, and by the way, it’s sunny and 72 degrees every day here. I enjoy a good blizzard like everyone else, as long as I watch it on the Weather Channel. That old cliche about livin’ a dream — I’m doing it.”