By Adam Levine
The Framingham State University Alumni Association hosted Charles Steinberg, president of the Worcester Red Sox, at the McCarthy Center Forum as a part of their Leaders & Luminaries series March 7.
The attendees listened to Steinberg’s story, which he described as “the most improbable career,” followed by a question and answer session.
President Nancy Niemi began the event with opening remarks and an introduction to Steinberg and his career. Niemi said, “One of the distinctive elements of [his] career, Dr. Steinberg is really looking at the Civic Engagement community outreach [he’s] done.”
Steinberg said, “Education because that, in general and writing specifically, have been the reasons that I've had this cascade of dreams come true that I never actually dared to dream.”
Steinberg emphasized the importance of reading, writing, and language skills, and the intersection they have with his role as a baseball executive. He said, “Writing is the elevator. Writing is the way up.”
Steinberg said he grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and began his career in baseball with the Rochester Red Wings, the minor league team of the Baltimore Orioles.
“I fell in love with baseball, and that meant the Orioles. You just wanted to know who's the next guy coming from Rochester,” Steinberg said.
He said he went to the Gilman School, a prep school in Baltimore. “The concept of the dramatic difference in education was presented to me and my writing got better,” Steinberg said.
Steinberg said in the final month of senior year at Gilman, they introduced a program to get students volunteer jobs in the community for a month.
Steinberg said his dad was an orthodontist and he worked in his dad’s office. “I thought, ‘dentistry looked pretty good,’” he said.
Steinberg said Gilman offered jobs working for the Orioles. “I never dreamed that dream,” he said.
On April 12, 1976, Steinberg said he interviewed for the program’s position with the Orioles.
“I was sure that I didn't matter because I'm the lowest of the low. I am a high school student here for a month,” Steinberg said.
“What I wouldn't know ’til years later is, we're checking out those high school students, we're checking out those college students.
“There is the incessant search for quality people,” he added.
Steinberg said he accepted a summer internship with the Orioles after his school internship. “I'm looking at the bottom of a shoe,” he said.
During the internship, Steinberg told a story of delivering a message on a pizza plate from a fan to the visiting team’s broadcast booth. After thinking it would not be possible, he completed the task and received a positive response from the broadcaster.
“It was a lesson that ‘yes’ might be an option in a world of ‘no’s,’” Steinberg said.
Steinberg began school at the University of Maryland, where he received his bachelor’s degree and doctor of dental surgery degree.
Steinberg said he introduced himself in a class at UMD the semester following his internship, where his professor was the fan with the message on a pizza plate.
“Thirty-nine years later, I'm named the president of the Pawtucket Red Sox.
“I get an email - ‘from pizza plate to president,’” Steinberg said.
During his time as a baseball executive, Steinberg said he changed the social and cultural history of the teams he worked for.
He said he hoped to “use the power of baseball to change and transform communities.”
Steinberg expanded this idea. He said, “I would love to see us do that which has never been done before, and that is to use the power of baseball's goodness on a global level.”
Steinberg said, “It’s fascinating to see the divine orchestration of it all.
“Along the way, I still thought I was gonna be a dentist,” he said.
Steinberg said he committed to his career path as a baseball executive by choosing to pursue his passion. He said, “If you're so blessed to find the intersection of your talent and your passion, I offer to you that that is your genius.”
When Steinberg was asked about the best aspect of his life he said, “To realize that dreams come true that you would never dare to dream.
“I think my greatest accomplishment of my career is never having grown up beyond 10 years old,” Steinberg added.