The Man Behind the Scoreboard meet the chicago cub's lightening fast scoreboard operator

By Jordan Gaines

During his 23-year tenure as electronic operator for Wrigley Field’s venerable scoreboard, Rick Fuhs has encountered countless celebrities, politicians, VIPs and baseball fans passing through the center-field press box. But perhaps the most emotional moment in Fuhs’ box occurred on May 18, 2012, during Kerry Wood’s goodbye game when Fuhs let Wood’s son Justin operate the board. “I told him, ‘You’re going to put your dad’s number up there one last time,’” Fuhs says. “He punched in 34 that last time. That was pretty touching.”
The scoreboard was once referred to as the most over-engineered feature of Wrigley Field by Veeck, so it comes as little surprise that the classic scoreboard was one of the final projects completed, in early October 1937, during the great renovation. It reportedly cost $100,000 alone, which was about 40 percent of the total tab to actually build the park in 1914. But price tag aside, this baby was built to last. “Structurally, it could withstand a hurricane,” says Cubs historian Ed Hartig. (It’s also only ever encountered weather—no batted ball has ever struck the board in all of its history.)
Fuhs. Nicknamed “Quick Rick,” is known for his cheetah-like response times to plays on the field. (Harry Caray once called him the fastest he’s seen in 50 years of baseball.) He often loses his line-up card during the game and rarely uses the binoculars next to his station, says the secret to his speed is studying the umpires—their characteristics, how they move—to determine the call before it’s announced. Combined with the you-have-to-see-it-to-believe immediacy of 96-year-old Curtis Melvin Hubertz’s mechanicals, Wrigley has possibly the fastest count updates in all of baseball—way speedier than the digital scoreboard that’s operated less than four feet away from Fuhs in the press box. “Nobody has been able to beat it in all these years,” Hubertz boasts. “The numbers are up there way before anyone can take their eyes off the field. It’s fast, it’s wonderful, and we were very proud of it. Still are.”

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