Chris Ivy, Bulls scorekeeper | Annual Manual | Indy Week
Pin It

Chris Ivy, Bulls scorekeeper 

He came out of left field

Click for larger image • Chris Ivey works behind the scoreboard during a game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. This is his first season changing numbers for the Bulls.

Photo by Derek Anderson

Click for larger image • Chris Ivey works behind the scoreboard during a game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. This is his first season changing numbers for the Bulls.

The next time you're at a Durham Bulls game, take a moment away from your Dippin' Dots and peer toward the left field wall. Take in the ballpark: the green of the freshly mown grass, the crisp chalk baselines, and downtown Durham silhouetted against the night sky. Keep going, past the Sumo Wrestlers, beyond Wool E. Bull shaking his tail on top of the dugout. Look just below the "Hit Bull, Win Steak (Hit Grass, Win Salad)" sign and the glow of the Jumbo-tron. If you look closely, you'll find him somewhere between the 9th and 10th innings. No, not in time, but rather in space: His name is Chris Ivy, and he is the Keeper of the Durham Bulls Scoreboard.

When the Bulls play at home, Ivy finishes work at Durham County Social Services, grabs dinner and arrives at the park by 6:30 p.m. Armed with a radio, walkie-talkie, notebooks, pens, peanuts and two fulls cups of ice, Ivy takes his place behind the board, greeting his fellow "teammates" along the way: ushers, food vendors and PR reps, who, he is quick to point out, are essential for a successful park experience.

"My first game that I worked the scoreboard alone was against Scranton," Ivy explains as he sets up his work space, a dusty platform covered in orderly piles of Plexiglas numbers. "And they ended up having 16 runs and 21 hits!" He pauses. "And our numbers only go up to 20!" Using some tape and a 12 and an 11, he was able to craft the required number. "There was also a game against Louisville with only two runs in the first and I ran out of zeroes, so that took a little quick thinking," he adds.

Chris Ivy: Baseball's MacGyver? No, simply a man with a love of the game and the numbers that go with it.

Ivy has followed the Bulls for years and decided to apply for a job with the team this past year; the scoreboard position opened up. "What do you say in an interview for a job like this? I'm familiar with the numbers 1 through 9?" he jokes. His job, as he describes it, is to pay attention to the stats of the game, but from his fly-on-the-wall view he can observe more than the average fan. "You get to see the player's superstitions, the left fielder talking to other outfielders. You see who bites their fingernails, who eats seeds, who's real twitchy between pitches," he says. Strangely, when the national anthem plays, the players all seem to be saluting him, though it is simply because the flag "flies" on the screen above him.

Ivy has full reign over his space. He has decorated the walls with newspaper clippings of actions shots from the games, including one of a left fielder catching a deep hit while leaping right up against the scoreboard. When he first arrived, the Plexiglas numbers were caked in dirt, and Ivy took matters into his own hands. "I'm just compulsive enough that I bought my own Windex and started cleaning them during games, starting with the 1s and 2s and other numbers I use first," he said. "But then I was worried that I would get in trouble for washing away 10 years of sacred Durham Bulls dirt!"

The job is a solitary one, with mostly a few moths and peanut shells to keep him company, though he does get plenty of visitors. During rain delays he brings kids behind the scoreboard, and fairly often an excited adult as well. He follows the game in his scorebook, using two different-colored pens. He knows who's been hitting well, who's in a slump, who has family visiting, who's moving up in the league and who's moving down, and can quote the stats to prove it. But he is always ready for action behind the board when activity happens on the other side of it.

"Home runs can be tricky because you have to change the numbers of hits, the final score and the inning score. Back-to-back home runs can be especially challenging," he says. Since he can't hear the game well through the walls and roof, he uses a Magnavox radio to listen to the action, and therefore gets the calls of the official scorekeeper. He knows all the commercials by heart by now, and sometimes the reception ebbs and flows, but he has a walkie-talkie on standby to check in with the press box.

"The 8th inning is the worst," he says, referring to the square between 7th and 9th. "The numbers get stuck and you just have to fiddle and push with it a lot."

So far, Ivy's rookie season with the Bulls is going well. He admits that during a recent 25-day stretch with 22 home games he got a little weary, especially when the heat hit the 90s. His hardest game so far was against Rochester, when the Bulls were up 6-1 in the 9th. Ivy had packed his bag in preparation to go home when the Bulls gave up 6 runs. The Bulls scored one run in the final inning of regulation to tie it, but ended up losing 8-7 in the 13th inning. Ivy didn't get home until nearly midnight. "It was the most deflating game of the year," he says. "It's always better when they're winning."

After the completion of each game, Ivy resets the scoreboard for the next one, wiping the slate clean for the Bulls and their opponents. He collects his bag and his radios and walks out into the nearly empty stadium, turning around to check his handiwork. "You've always got to look back one last time and make sure it's right."

Correction (Aug. 25, 2008): Chris Ivy's name was misspelled.

  • "What do you say in an interview for a job like this? I'm familiar with the numbers 1 through 9?" Chris Ivy jokes.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Annual Manual



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

A horrible picture to depict our sport. These people are labelled hackers and are responsible for 75% of the destruction …

by ms10513 on Disc golf: from tee to target (Annual Manual)

Hi all!

London celebrates Carrom and the Asian subcontinent during EAST 2010, its annual festival that celebrates London's cultural and …

by monica on Carrom (Annual Manual)

Thank you, Matthew, and the Independent Weekly for this well-written, well-researched article about HOPE, the CEF, and other student initiatives …

by uncphotographer on Campus Y matches students with social activism (Annual Manual)

1.) After watching the video of the protesters at Chapel Hill, I have to take sides with the police. While …

by Charlie_B on Free speech "zones," police crackdowns threaten to muzzle debate (Annual Manual)

White Rabbit: The first part of this article, where The Chronicle is referenced, is about Duke University.

by Denise Prickett on Out (or not) and proud (Annual Manual)

Comments

A horrible picture to depict our sport. These people are labelled hackers and are responsible for 75% of the destruction …

by ms10513 on Disc golf: from tee to target (Annual Manual)

Hi all!

London celebrates Carrom and the Asian subcontinent during EAST 2010, its annual festival that celebrates London's cultural and …

by monica on Carrom (Annual Manual)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation