The scoreboard was probably invented by a scorekeeper who got tired of everyone asking him what the score was.
The Story Behind the Object
Prior to writing this, I took to the old Google machine in search of quotes about scoreboards. Actually, I was looking for a quote from Major League II. You know the one...
Cerrano: [goes up to bat] Parkman, my good friend. How you doing?
Jack Parkman: Look at the scoreboard, Buddha, I'm doing just fine.
Cerrano: That last pitch man: that was beautiful.
[hits home run]
Cerrano: Not as beautiful as that though!
Cerrano: [to Parkman after rounding the bases] Look. At. The. Scoreboard. Now, Grasshopper!
It’s probably been 20 years since I’ve seen Major League II, yet that “look at the scoreboard now” was the first thing to pop in my head when I started pondering what I was going to write in a column about scoreboards. I didn’t remember every line leading up to that, but that part I remembered distinctly.
Now is probably a good time to point out that I have some sort of weird condition in which I can remember all kinds of random quotes from various television shows and movies that I haven’t seen in ages. Which, in and of itself, is not incredibly odd. The odd part is that I can quote large chunks of shows and movies, yet somehow still be genuinely surprised by the plot. I guess it’s kind of a miss the forest for the trees type of thing.
At any rate, after I found the quote on Google, I thought to myself, “maybe there are other good quotes about scoreboards that I could use in this column.” Turns out, there weren’t. So instead, I present to you, the top four Tar Heel-related scoreboard-esque items/events in history:
The Cameron Clock Operator
Sure, not exactly Carolina related. But I think we can all agree that if you watch Carolina basketball, you likely watch Duke basketball. And if you’ve been watching Carolina and Duke basketball long enough, you’ve undoubtedly witnessed at least one inexplicable timing error by the clock operator at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Odds are, you’ve seen more than one. I’m certain these are just honest mistakes and in no way part of a larger conspiracy designed to benefit Blue Devil basketball, but even Duke fans will admit there have been some fishy occurrences on their home court.
Spurrier posing in front of the scoreboard
1989. Steve Spurrier’s last season at Duke. The last game of the year, he brought his Blue Devils over to Chapel Hill and handed the Heels a butt-kicking in Kenan Stadium. 41-0. I was five years old and far too young to remember that game or that score, yet I can recount all of those previous details without the assistance of the internet. And do you know why? It’s because after the game, Spurrier thought it would be funny to have his team pose in front of the scoreboard for a picture. My blood pressure spikes just thinking about it.
The Carmichael flip scoreboard
I’m also too young to have ever watched a game in Carmichael (save for the 2010 NIT contest against William & Mary), but that doesn’t stop me from knowing that there was a little flip scoreboard in the corner of the arena that allowed Dean Smith to always know the score when he was watching game film afterward. That little flip scoreboard is probably the most iconic “scoreboard” in all of college basketball. Or maybe that’s just something Carolina fans think.
T.A. “you can’t take points off the scoreboard” McLendon
October, 2004. My junior year at Carolina. The Heels lead the Pack 30-24 with 30-ish seconds left, but N.C. State has the ball on the goal line. They hand off to T.A. McLendon who surges toward the goal line. One goal line official signals a touchdown, and the Kenan scoreboard updates the score to 30-30. The opposite goal line official runs in, confers with the initial signaler, and they overrule the initial call. Points come off the scoreboard, taking it back to 30-24, and T.A. fumbles on the next play, giving Carolina the victory. Pandemonium ensues. Rumor has it that John Bunting’s Christmas card that year was the iconic picture of T.A. in mid-air, just after the ball had been popped loose, with text reading “I hope your Christmas is a big hit.”
That was my junior year at Carolina, and as such I was sitting in the student section for that game. My seats were virtually on the goal line, probably 15 or so rows up. I likely had one of the best views of anyone in America to be able to see whether or not T.A.’s knee was down. So, after 14 years, it’s probably time for me to come clean. From my angle, with the view I had, I have to admit… his knee was down. The officials got it right. And I laaaaaaaaughed.
So, after all this talk about scoreboards, it’s probably time to describe the one in my house.
Carolina Collectibles Description
Technically, this is a clock sneakily modeled after a scoreboard. The 22” x 16” display shows the time, temperature, and date. I obviously acquired it sometime between 2009 and 2017, because it describes Carolina as “6 x National Basketball Champions” and the years listed are 1924 through 2009. If I had one critique of this item, it would be that they wrote “Home” on the left and “Visitor” on the right, which is problematic for two reasons. Number one, the home team is generally listed last in sports. And number two, on a clock, the visitor is almost always going to be beating the home team. At 7:55, that means the home team (presumably Carolina) is trailing 55 to 7. Yikes.
Carolina Collectibles Comparison: Pat Sullivan
This Carolina scoreboard clock is not the first piece of memorabilia I think of when I go to list all of my Tar Heel stuff, but it is super functional. It is in our bonus room, along with our pool table. I don’t wear a watch, and often when I play pool my phone is not on my person, so this clock comes in quite handy when I need to know what time it is. It’s a lot like Pat Sullivan. Dependable, reliable, useful. Yet often unappreciated and forgotten.
Carolina Collectibles Rating: 3 Stars
If you need something to keep the time in a room that doesn’t currently contain a clock, this item is for you.