He's had a bird's eye view of about 1,000 baseball games since Knights Stadium opened in 1990 off Gold Hill Road. And he's watched every game like a hawk.
Fort Mill resident Bob Young has operated the scoreboard for the Triple A Charlotte Knights every season. This year marks his 18th with the team. His job is to update the giant scoreboard in center field after every pitch.Spending even a half-inning with Young during a game is unlike any baseball experience you've had. He watches the home-plate umpire throughout the game, looking at his signals for balls and strikes.
He uses an original piece of equipment to make the change to the scoreboard. It is an old keyboard with a dozen buttons on it that seems oddly out of place in the tightly-packed room of video screens, DVD players and PCs.
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Young hasn't missed many games over the years. He said he missed about a week's worth of games last year and a whole home stand a few years ago when his full-time job required him to travel. Still, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who has worked as many home games for the Knights since they moved from Charlotte to Fort Mill in 1988.
Young knew Roman Gabriel, then the Knights' General Manager. Gabriel encouraged Young to come to work for the home games. In 1988 the team began playing in a temporary stadium near where Knights Castle is situated today. Young worked in concessions and took tickets back then.
When the new stadium opened, he was asked to take over the scoreboard. He was a little hesitant at first.
"I was nervous - it was something new," Young said. "Sometimes you have to fly by the seat of your pants."
He recalled a time when lightning rendered the scoreboard useless for some games until it could be repaired. Young and another Knights employee stood in the stands with posters that relayed the normal scoreboard information to grateful fans.
He saw a no-hitter on Aug. 1, 2004, by Knights' right-hander Tetsu Yofu. That is the lone no-hitter thrown by the Knights since they became a Triple A franchise in 1993.
He was there for the longest game, a 21-inning affair three or four years ago. "We didn't get out of here until almost three o'clock in the morning," Young laughed.
Young works full-time as an estimator for a glass and metal company. He prices jobs big and small. Some jobs may call for a single door or window, while others may be for an entire shopping center. Either way, Young says he needs to be accurate with his numbers.
He sees that as a transferable skill for his work at the stadium.
"My numbers need to be correct on the scoreboard just like they are when I bid on a job," Young said.
"There is less tension here at the stadium. Some umpires are better to work with than others. Some have very clear hand motions for balls and strikes - left hand signals a ball, right-hand for the strikes. Others only motion for the strikes. Sometimes we all just look at each other because we have no idea what was called," Young grinned.
"That's when an umpire will look up my way and shake a finger at me. Then he'll point to the scoreboard. We get it right most of the time."
Young's wife, Jean, also works game days. She is the friendly voice who answers the phone when you call. She said she intended to work only one season. That was 15 years ago.
"I wanted to make some extra money because we planned to travel to all of our youngest son's football games. He went to South Carolina State," Jean said. Matt graduated from Fort Mill High School and was a place kicker for the Bulldogs.
The Youngs did make it to all of Matt's games in 1993. They went to Maryland, Orlando and New Orleans. But she returned to the Knights the next season.
"I like it here and I enjoy being around people," Jean said. "I knew Bob enjoyed it and it is something we can do together."
Next time you are at the Castle, try to sit just to the first base side of home plate. Turn around to face the press box and gaze into the far left window. That's where you'll find Bob Young, as always.