CNN  — 

It’s a Sunday night in Chicago and the stands at Wrigley Field are packed. The fifth game of the 2016 World Series has started, and more than 41,000 baseball fans have gathered to watch in nervous anticipation as the innings tick up – from the bottom of the seventh to the top of the ninth.

The home team here, the Chicago Cubs, hasn’t won a World Series since 1908, before Wrigley Field was built.

Throughout the nearly four-and-a-half-hour game, everyone is laser focused on the action happening on the field. Every run scored is met with cheers. Then, eyes flit up to the big green scoreboard.

Perched high above the bleachers in center field, the scoreboard sits for all to see. The numbers on it don’t lie. Run or out, ball or strike, it keeps careful count during the game.

Over the past century, stadiums across the nation have been modernized. Technology and creature comforts have upgraded everything from stadium seats to the locker rooms. At Wrigley Field, one thing remains the same. The scoreboard.

It’s the same scoreboard that tallied baseball’s home run king Hank Aaron’s 50 home runs at Wrigley. And the one that witnessed Wrigley’s largest ever crowd as they came to watch Jackie Robinson’s first appearance at the stadium.

This scoreboard hasn’t just seen history. It is history.

Scorekeepers here are the few left of their kind. Their workspace is one of only two manually operated scoreboards left in Major League Baseball.

The scoreboard at Wrigley Field is seen before the Chicago Cubs take on the New York Yankees.

READ: Babe Ruth’s 500th home run baseball bat sold for $1 million

Inside baseball

Not many people get to see the inside of Wrigley’s scoreboard; access into the guts of the metal box, built in 1937, is fiercely protected by the Cubs management. There is one man, though, who has spent the better part of his lifetime in it.

Darryl Wilson grew up the exact opposite of a Cubs fan. In a city known for its multitude of legacy sports teams, loyalty and allegiances are often determined by unofficial and invisible geographic lines.

For Wilson, the South Side of Chicago, is home. It’s also where the MLB’s Chicago White Sox claim home turf.  “Cubs fans are banned from my neighborhood,” laughs Wilson.

However, a chance job opportunity in his twenties landed him at Wrigley Field. He started as a janitor then and more than 28 years later has since found his way up – literally, into the scoreboard.

The scoreboard is shown at Wrigley Field.

READ: MLB will remove marijuana from list of ‘drugs of abuse’ and test for opioids under new drug agreement

Ascending into the past

There’s only one way in and out of this metal behemoth; that path requires climbing up a narrow ladder that ascends sharply into the scoreboard’s solitary trapdoor.

Once inside, the dark and dusty workspace looks like it’s been frozen in time. Three sets of metal platforms stretch the length of the scoreboard connected on either end by stairs. A few strategically placed lightbulbs shed light here and the only slivers of natural light creep in at the corners of the box.

While most scores are now updated on an electronic scoreboard with the push of a button, here, stacks of flat, rectangular, metal plates of varying sizes lay around, waiting to get the job done.

The plates weigh anywhere from five to 35 pounds. There are plates for the starting pitchers, city team names and the scores themselves, to name a few. 

In the winter, the Chicago chill means the scoreboard gets brutally cold. During the hot and humid summers, the opposite.

Wilson says the temperature in the box can easily run 10 to 15 degrees hotter or colder depending on the season. Within a few minutes of entering the box in the summer, he’s got sweat gathering at his temples. He’s not the only one getting hot, the metal plates are also feeling the heat.

“In the summertime they can heat up to like 100 or 125 degrees if the sun’s beating on it. Most guys wear gloves. But if you move fast enough, you don’t have to use ‘em. I’m pretty much used to ‘em.

“Actually, I probably don’t even have any fingerprints since I burned ‘em all off,” he jokes.

A scoreboard operator watches the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds.

READ: Derek Jeter unveils ‘next chapter’ of Players’ Tribune with new ‘partnership’

Changing plates

Hot or cold, knowing when and how to change the plates requires practice and skill according to Wilson. Something that he realizes isn’t easy for the uninitiated.

Everything inside the scoreboard runs from right to left. Those reading it on the outside, however, see things left to right.

Wilson’s first attempt at changing scores resulted in scores showing up in the tenth inning. “I had maybe three or four scores backwards and I was scared to answer the phone. It was ringing,” he recounts.

Watching Wilson now, it’s clear he is a novice no more.

“I got used to it. Got in a groove and it became second nature.”

Now he’s the one teaching others how to uphold one of baseball’s oldest traditions.

“There’s a small clip. You wanna turn it. Don’t stick in your finger, it might get stuck. Bang it. You’re going to tap and pop it out, down. Slide it right here and lock it. ”

And when everyone’s watching the action on the field during game days, Wilson is doing what he does best: controlling the chaos. 

It’s not just the home game scores that Wilson has to be aware of, but all the games being played in the entire league. With 30 teams playing at any given time and nine innings to each game, keeping score requires keeping up. 

“These guys over here change constantly,” he’s says. “That’s for every game we have in the scoreboard. So if there’s twelve games, eleven games are away. So if you can imagine, you can put one in, by the time you get back to check it again, it’s another one changing again.”

Chicago fans celebrate the Chicago Cubs' 8-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians outside Wrigley Field.

READ: World Series flashers get banned indefinitely by MLB

Absolution found

For nearly all of his career with the Cubs, Wilson only saw seasons end in disappointment. Despite their storied stadium, the team nicknamed the “loveable losers” struggled to win a World Series.

On a fateful Wednesday night in November, 2016, everything changed. With the series tied against the Cleveland Indians, the Cubs won Game 7 with a score of 8 to 7. While the Cubs celebrated on Cleveland’s home turf, their fans found absolution at Wrigley with the scoreboard looming overhead.

The Chicago Cubs celebrate defeating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series.

Visit for more news, features, and videos

And Wilson? He had the best seat in the house for the World Series home games at Wrigley.

“It was energetic. We were in here, but we were going nuts in here. We’d be in here cheering and beating on the plates every time they would get a hit. It was magical for us. It was electrifying.”