ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman
was cool the first time "magical entertainer" Lieutenant Colonel (US
Army Retired) Dick Steiner tried to coax him into watching a card trick.
Steiner was performing at baseball's 1995 All Star Game post-game party.
Using a plush green pad, simulating a baseball diamond, Steiner laid out
ordinary playing cards, then transformed their faces, one-by-one, into baseball
cards. Intrigued, Berman consented to try the transformation
himself. He carefully turned over a single card, revealing -- his own
picture! Soon Berman was barking his trademark homerun call,
"back-back-back-back-back!" to anyone who tried to get between him and
the green velvet diamond.
For Steiner, who has performed at
the White House, inaugural festivities, the Preakness, for Coca-Cola and Xerox,
and for major league baseball clubs, the moment was pure satisfaction.
Careful preparation and a lifelong interest in magic led him to a second career
in which he regularly wows sophisticated adults into eager fans.
A 1968 West Point graduate and
frequent emcee as an officer, Steiner served in Vietnam, Germany, and Australia
before retiring in 1989. Since then, he has been a full-time professional
magician and mentalist.
"I didn't have all the
answers when I retired," says Steiner. "It was hit and miss. But
my strategy evolved."
That strategy is simple: to
make satisfied customers who want him back. Steiner's many repeat
customers and glowing recommendations are an indication that his strategy works.
A longtime fan, Steiner developed
the baseball niche to set himself apart in the marketplace. That strategy,
too, is a clear success. He works at fantasy camps, for players hosting
events, at Orioles' games, and at "Swing with the Legends" golf
"I liked magic as a
kid," he recalls, but became distracted by other activities (girls,
sports, studies) as he got older. A few years before retirement, a
friend introduced him to a magician. The spark ignited again and soon he
was spending every spare moment working on his technique. As retirement
approached, he decided he'd give "magical living" a try.
Steiner credits the buffer of
his military retirement pay for his chance at a dream-like career. He
encourages others with similar opportunity to try their dreams and see where