BRENTWOOD, Calif. — It was early 2015 when Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Charley Steiner walked into a famed Hollywood restaurant with two of his friends, noticed his old boss and tried to look away — but it was of no use.
Donald Trump, who owned the USFL’s New Jersey Generals from 1984-1985, was having dinner in West Hollywood with broadcaster Al Michaels, and walked towards Steiner.
“So Donald gets up, he puts his arm around me,’’ Steiner told USA TODAY Sports, “and he says to Al, ‘You know, I made his career.’
“So he’s standing there, and says it again, ‘I made his career.’
“I looked up at him and said, ‘You didn’t have a (expletive) thing to do with my career.’”
Steiner wasn’t finished.
“Then, he pats me on the back in the most condescending fashion imaginable, and says, ‘You never thanked me.’
“I said, ‘There wasn’t a reason to thank you.’’’
Steiner walked away, turned around one last time, and said to Trump: “Go (expletive) yourself.’’
“So my last words to the President of the United States,’’ Steiner said, “were, ‘go (expletive) yourself.’ I swear to God. There are witnesses.’’
Yep, legendary broadcaster Larry King and Beverly Hills real estate agent Kurt Rappaport, were right there with Steiner and can indeed confirm the confrontation.
Steiner had been the Generals’ play-by-play broadcaster for three years when Trump purchased the team in 1984, but was already well-acquainted with the future president.
“I knew him before he bought the team,’’ Steiner said. “I saw the birth of Trump. He was a real estate guy. I knew Donald when he was just a Donald and not The Donald and before he became president.
“I always thought the guy he patterned himself after was (former Yankees owner) George Steinbrenner. And here’s why: Steinbrenner owned the back page of the (New York) Daily News and the Post. He handled the media like a (expletive) yo-yo. He could plant a story. He could play a story.
“Donald was just a real estate agent. He never got any attention because he built buildings. He understood how to manipulate the media by buying a football team.
“So, he bought a football team, and it just raised his persona. He could get himself the back page of the Post. He was already on Page Six, and now he could get on the front page, too.’’
When Steiner shared his views on Trump in a 2009 ESPN documentary about the USFL, Trump fired back, insisting that he made Steiner famous.
“Charlie Steiner was nobody. Charlie Steiner couldn’t get a job,” Trump said. “I hope he remains loyal and if he doesn’t let me know and I’ll attack him.”
Sorry if Steiner begs to differ, with cold, hard facts.
“So here’s what is thoroughly amazing about that,’’ Steiner said, his voice rising, “I was already the announcer when he bought the team. I was on the No. 1 morning show in New York. And I was sports director of RKO Radio Network.
“This guy admired the showmanship in George, and thought he could take it to the next level on television. In two years, he took both the team and the league in bankruptcy.
“So, he’s had plenty of practice.’’
Steiner could certainly share plenty of other thoughts and opinions of his former boss, but hey, there’s no reason to get political, he says, when Dodger fans simply want to hear him broadcast baseball games.
Said Steiner: “What I will say is what I told him that night was liberating.
“It sure felt good.’’
Read more at usatoday.com