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Steinberg hit it out of the park, thanks to UMD's Honors program

Steinberg hit it out of the park, thanks to UMD's Honors program

Charles Steinberg '80, president of the Worcester Red Sox, with his new bride, Kara Lynch.

By P.K Daniel

During the summer before his freshman year at the University of Maryland, Dr. Charles Steinberg ’80 was interning with the Baltimore Orioles. His position was so low, he was the assistant to the resident gofer. The two interns were sitting in the lobby of the Orioles offices one night, at the ready for whatever need arose, watching the game between Baltimore and the Detroit Tigers on a small, black and white monitor when a man with reddish-blond hair and dressed in a London Fog-like trench coat walked in.

He had an unusual request for the switchboard operator. He was attending the game in Memorial Stadium with his wife, whose family back in Michigan was watching on TV. He wanted to get a message to Ernie Harwell, the longtime voice of the Tigers. However, the only thing he had to write on was a pizza-stained piece of cardboard. The Orioles employee obliged. Off went the interns, who scurried up the ramp to the press box and then to the broadcast booth.

“That taught me so much about the Orioles’ kindness to a stranger.” said Steinberg. “They said yes when there were 20 justifications to say no.”

A few months later, Steinberg, who earned his undergraduate degree in zoology, started his studies in College Park. He enrolled in a history course. During an office appointment with his professor — Dr. James Flack — Steinberg mentioned his internship with the Orioles. The professor started sharing a story of the generosity of the team when he was at a Tigers game that summer. Turns out, the professor sitting across from the freshman was the very man whose pizza plate Steinberg had delivered.

Fast-forward nearly 40 years to 2015, when Steinberg was named the president of the Pawtucket Red Sox, (now the Worcester Red Sox), the triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. He opened an email that said: “From pizza plate to president. Congratulations from all the Flacks.”

Steinberg has left an impression on many, in and out of baseball. Steinberg’s resume includes front-office stops with the Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres. He had his hand in the construction of Camden Yards, Petco Park and Polar Park, new home of the Worcester Red Sox, and the restoration of Fenway Park. He’s also the director of sports communication at Boston’s Emerson College, where he has been teaching since 2016.

Charles Steinberg (front and center), who served as the Baltimore Orioles dentist for years, sits with his fellow University of Maryland School of Dentistry students.

Dr. Steinberg '80 (front and center), who served as the Baltimore Orioles dentist for years, sits with his fellow University of Maryland School of Dentistry students.

He attributes Maryland’s General Honors Program, now known as the Honors College, and its high level of student activity, participation and governance to his success. “It was really the key to my education beyond the classroom at Maryland,” he said. “Because it was very student-operated, I plunged headlong into that and that was a difference-maker in my undergraduate education.”

Under the direction of Dr. John Portz, Steinberg learned about management and bureaucracies — everything from public relations and marketing to search committees and university administration. “It's kind of ironic that I'm now the president of a baseball club and a professor at Emerson College,” he said.

Steinberg and his friends from the honors program were also devoted Maryland basketball fans. They formed what was known as the First Row club and donned T-shirts with the same name. They would be the first in line for student tickets at 6 a.m., and then first in line to enter Cole Field House. “And then my friends, who were all athletic, would run down the aisle and I, who was the appropriate caboose, would run slowly, blocking everybody else trying to catch up to my friends,” he said. They would occupy the whole first row behind then-coach Lefty Driesell. “We never failed to sit in the first row.”

Steinberg continued his education at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry before becoming the Orioles’ team dentist.

“The biggest decision I ever made was the decision to not arbitrarily decide on dentistry versus baseball or baseball versus dentistry,” he said. “I did both for a number of years until the baseball work just got so, so big that I stopped the dentistry.”

Steinberg credited UMD for exposing him to various avenues. “It gave me the avenue for the sciences to let me get my doctorate in dentistry, but it also gave me an opportunity to integrate myself into the world of business and bureaucracies, which suited me well for my baseball career,” he said.


Publication of this article does not imply an endorsement by the Alumni Association.


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