Memorial Stadium had a well-deserved
reputation as the "House of Magic" before the 33rd Street ball yard
was abandoned by the Orioles following the 1991 baseball season.
It was there that late-inning
heroics by Doug DeCinces and Eddie Murray, and their teammates on the 1979
American League championship squad, led to the catchy "Orioles Magic"
The familiar theme has resurfaced
periodically over the years to describe the feats of those who carried on the
tradition before and after the switch to the downtown Camden Yards facility.
The latter-day miracle workers
included personalities such as John Lowenstein and Cal Ripken in the early
1980s, followed by the likes of Mike Devereaux and Brady Anderson, and more
recently Chris Hoiles and Mark McLemore.
Now, the name of Dick Steiner may
be added to the intriguing mix.
Dick Steiner? He's not a
rookie about to make his debut and he'll never drive in a late-inning winning
run. But those who have been privy to his card tricks will recognize his
right to be included in the "Orioles Magic" Hall of Fame.
He has appeared in the sky
boxes and various rooms at Oriole Park or in the Camden Club, entertaining fans
with a routine of mentalism and sophisticated legerdemain with clever ties to a
While fans are enjoying pre-game
hors d'oeuvres, Dick entertains with his special brand of "strolling
magic," making use of a waiter's stand which he can set up as he moves
around the room.
Tricks are performed atop a pad,
some 15 inches square, covered with green velvet and brown suede to simulate a
baseball diamond, with white satin bases and white stitching for the foul lines.
Dick performed at the Baseball
Gala celebrations during All-Star Week the past two years.
He now lives in Millersville,
Anne Arundel County, and got caught up in the Orioles mania when he moved to the
area in 1991. He was raised in Minneapolis and was a Minnesota Twins
follower most of his life.
In high school, Dick was
co-captain of the track, cross country and swimming teams, and was on the cross
country team at West Point.
"I played Little League
baseball," he said, "but I couldn't hit at all. I was sort of a
That's just about the way he was
scouted by Orioles executive Roland Hemond, who has seen Dick perform several
times. "He has quick hands," Roland said, "the kind you
look for in a second basemen...[Bill] Mazeroski hands.
"He might not be able to hit
home runs," Roland added, "but he wears the Orioles colors with
He referred to the orange tie and
a cummerbund with the Orioles logo which Dick wears for shows at the ballpark,
and Oriole Advocates and Designated Hitters engagements.
Dick is an inveterate baseball
junky who is familiar with all sorts of trivia about his favorite sport
["it takes up a lot of valuable space in my brain."]
Harmon Killebrew was his favorite
player, and Dick recalls the pain of listening to radio reports of the Orioles
beating the Twins in the first two American League Championship Series.
"I'll never forget [Mark]
Belanger scoring from third base when [Paul] Blair bunted to win the first game
in 1969. I was stationed at Fort Carson [CO] at the time. I heard
the 1970 playoffs on a transistor in Vietnam [where 26 of his West Point
classmates were killed in action].
"I'd root for the Orioles
now if they played the Twins again in the playoffs, but if Killebrew could come
back and play, I'd probably root for the Twins."
Dick's earliest memory of the
Orioles came in high school when Jim Gentile hit consecutive grand slam homers
against the Twins in 1961 [showing his trivia knowledge, he noted correctly
that Jim hit them off Pedro Ramos and Paul Giel].
He spent 21 years in the Army
following graduation from West Point in 1968, with service in Germany and
Australia, in addition to Vietnam. He retired in 1989 [as a lieutenant
colonel] to become a full-time professional magician and mentalist.
"I was always interested
in magic as a kid," Dick said, "but my interest was rekindled in
1986 when I met a magician [Fred Cook] who led me in the right
direction. He got me to read material on the subject and practice
when he saw I was obviously not just curious."
Cook, who died about five years
ago, showed Dick various sleight-of hand moves and introduced him to other
magicians, with whom he shared ideas.
"The highlight to date of
combining my professional magic and my love of baseball was entertaining the
current and former all-stars at the All-Star Game," Dick said.
"I even received a 'high five' from Barry Bonds."
That was when Bonds was asked
to cut a deck of All-Star cards, pick a number, turn over the card when he
reached that number...and found that he had turned over his own All-Star
card. Another Bonds card was then recovered from an envelope that had
been placed to the side at the outset of the trick.
For another trick, Dick has someone
autograph a card after picking it at random from a regular deck. To the
amazement of onlookers, that same card [with the identifiable autograph] was
eventually found folded inside a nest of six Russian dolls, one inside the
other, painted with uniforms from six different Orioles eras from 1954 to
As for his current situation,
Dick couldn't be happier combining baseball and magic. "It's not
often you can turn a hobby into a profession," he said.