- Associated Press - Sunday, July 31, 2016

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) - Greg Farrar has a unique vantage point for Hagerstown Suns games.

For most of the 70 home games each season at the city’s Municipal Stadium, Farrar is at the helm of the manual scoreboard, monitoring the game pitch-by-pitch and swing-by-swing.

As scoreboard operator since the 2012 season, Farrar has seen close to 350 Suns’ games from the outfield.

Farrar might be retired from his “real” job, but the Greencastle, Pennsylvania, resident keeps busy with his “fun” seasonal jobs. An electrical engineer by training, he worked in manufacturing management or maintenance his entire career.

It was a job with GBC Films in Hagerstown, now Cosmo Films, that prompted Farrar and his wife to move from the Baltimore area in 2004.



When he retired in April 2011, Farrar attended a job fair at Whitetail Ski Resort near Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and has worked there for five ski seasons, the first year on the tubing hill and since then in the tech shop.

After the 2012 Suns job fair for game-day employees, Farrar was hired as an usher/ticket taker, but told them if the scoreboard operator job opened up, he thought that was the best job at the stadium.

At orientation, Farrar learned the position was open, when the Scoreboard Cowboy, known for his Western dance during the seventh-inning stretch, didn’t return.

“I said ‘I’m your guy.’ That was 2012, so this is my fifth season and I’ve loved every minute of it,” Farrar said.

While living in the Baltimore area, Farrar rooted for the Baltimore Orioles. He said he’s become a “strong Nationals fan” thanks to the Suns affiliation with the Washington, D.C., team.

“The ultimate would be a Nationals-Orioles World Series, and then I don’t know what I’d do,” Farrar said.

On game days, Farrar, 68, arrives at Municipal Stadium toting a bag with an umbrella and rain suit, just to be safe, noting that only he and the umpires are out in the elements for the entire game, since the players are in their dugouts when they’re not on the field.

He has a well-established pre-game routine. After clocking in, Farrar checks the team rosters to see who’s in left field, the player closest to the scoreboard.

Farrar grabs a bag of peanuts and a bottled water at the concession stand, in lieu of the meal that he’s entitled to, then heads toward the outfield around the perimeter of the stadium.

Passing through a fence limiting access to authorized personnel, Farrar goes behind an assortment of equipment leading to a gravel path and up the steps to the wooden deck in front of the scoreboard.

Once he spreads the large, metal double-sided numbers out for easy access, Farrar hangs a “0” each for runs, hits and errors, then checks to make sure that the lights for balls and outs, which are controlled by the official scorekeeper in the press box, are working.

A radio is used to keep in touch with the scorekeeper for errors, because the scorekeeper has the final say on the call.

A well-worn duct-taped folding chair is opened and positioned next to the electric box that serves as Farrar’s makeshift desk.

Last, but not least, is a quick trip to the restroom, because once the game begins, Farrar can’t leave his post until the game is over, about three hours later.

Farrar’s playing days ended with the Colts League in high school, but he’s remained an avid baseball fan since. He admits this job requires his full attention.

“I can’t look away, honestly,” he said. “I have to follow where the ball goes, keep track of who’s on base, how many outs there are.”

He uses visual aids to help him stay on top of the game, using three stones to indicate base runners and a washer to indicate the number of outs. Two wooden benches provide height for reaching the metal posts on which the metal numbers hang.

“You have to to do the right job ‘cuz really you’re not only putting up numbers for the fans, it’s also for the teams,” Farrar said.

Farrar admits he’d be out of a job if the Suns upgraded to an electronic scoreboard and personally likes the feel of the manual board.

“I think it gives more of a personal touch than a computer board,” he said. “In the major leagues, there’s two manual boards - that’s in Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley in Chicago - and I’d love to visit one of them.”

He noted that the scoreboard operators at those parks work inside, hanging the numbers backwards because of the way they face the fans.

For Farrar, the cold night games early in the season are more uncomfortable than the hot, humid summer games. His favorite games are the morning Education Day games at the end of the school year, because his perch is in the shade until about noon time.

The steel scoreboard does radiate heat in the summer and is not a great place to be during a thunderstorm.

So far this season, a ball has hit the scoreboard only twice. Farrar keeps a close eye on the ball, but said in the dark it’s easy to lose sight of it in the lights.

It’s rare for Farrar to miss a game, but when family vacation doesn’t happen to fall when the Suns are on the road, members of the grounds crew fill in.

Farrar said he missed the start of a game recently because of a serious car accident at Route 40 and Interstate 81.

“They were so glad to see me,” Farrar said. “The one guy said, ‘You’ve got your hands full.’ .”

___

Information from: The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., https://www.herald-mail.com

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