Ingram wraps up long career as scoreboard operator
If you’ve ever been to a high-school football game at A.J. Simeon Stadium, you most likely took Tim Ingram for granted.
It was nothing personal. You probably had no idea who was up there in the booth, faithfully operating the scoreboard — the clock, the score, the down and distance — game after game after game. In fact, it’s a tribute to Ingram that you didn’t notice him, because that means he did his job admirably, without disrupting the flow of the game.
Friday night, though, even as T. Wingate Andrews routed Washington en route to this week’s 2AA state championship game in Chapel Hill, the game was bittersweet for Ingram, as it marked the end of his lengthy tenure as the stadium’s official scoreboard operator.
“It was a little emotional, even though I didn’t think it would be,” says the 60-year-old High Point man, who has operated the stadium scoreboard for some 32 years — more than half his life. “It really touched me. When I turned it off and put it back into the storage bag, I realized I was done with it for good.”
Unlike most high-school teams’ scoreboard operator, Ingram worked games for two schools — Andrews and High Point Central — meaning he didn’t get many weeks off.
“We have a game almost every Friday night from the third week of August until, in this year’s case, this past Friday — we’re working double the amount of a normal crew,” says Robert Murphey, the stadium’s public address announcer since 2009. “And even when Tim or his wife had health issues, he was faithful. In my five years, he has not missed a game that I know of.”
Ingram, who works for Piedmont Natural Gas, certainly wasn’t in it for the money. In fact, he turned down the $50 a game he was offered and only grudgingly agreed to accept half that much.
“I would’ve done it for nothing,” he says.
When Ingram first started as a scoreboard operator more than three decades ago, the pay was $5 per game, he says.
Even before that, Ingram ran the clock for free at Ferndale Middle School and High Point Central basketball games, just because of his lifelong interest in athletics. It was in 1981 that he began working games at Simeon on a part-time basis, joining a crew up in the booth that included his father, Herb Ingram. The next year he went full time, and he’s been doing it ever since.
The key to doing the job well, Ingram says, is simply paying attention.
“I would try to get to games at least an hour to an hour and a half early to meet with the officials and go over signals,” he explains. “And then you just have to key on that referee at all times and block out the rest of the room — the PA announcers, the sportswriters. I would just block everybody out and zone into my own world and stare at the field.”
For many years, Ingram worked not only varsity games on Friday nights, but junior varsity games on Thursday nights. And for a few years during the 1990s, he even worked games for Welborn Middle School.
How does Ingram explain his devotion to operating the scoreboard for so long?
“I’ve just always been about the youths and youth recreation,” he says. “I just love seeing the development of the kids as they grow and prosper, and I love athletics in general. It’s been fun.”
As a spectator, you may not miss Ingram next season. But Murphey, the PA announcer, says Ingram will definitely be missed in the booth.
“I’m a little apprehensive for next year, because I know he won’t be there,” Murphey says. “I told him he’s like my security blanket, because there are so many signals from the officials on the field, and he knows them all and is always there to help. He makes us all better at what we do. They’re gonna have some big shoes to fill.”
Ingram says the time is right for stepping down from the booth, largely to deal with some family health issues.
“I’m ready to relax on Friday nights,” he says. “I’m still gonna go to a ball game or two, but I won’t have to go to all of them anymore.”
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