January 4, 2016

Unsung Hero: Scorekeeper doesn't miss a beat

Written by Mike Carmin - JC online
Unsung Hero: Scorekeeper doesn't miss a beat John Terhune/Journal & Courier

It was during a dinner more than 30 years ago inside Purdue University’s Pi Kappa Phi fraternity (Omega Chapter) that Al Purdom’s association with the women’s basketball program began.

Bob Miller — whose father worked in the athletic department — asked if any of his fraternity brothers were interested in working at Mackey Arena during the basketball games.

Only Purdom raised his hand.

More than three decades later, Purdom remains a fixture. Purdom spent the first half of the 1982-83 season as an assistant scorekeeper but was elevated to the main job about halfway through the year.

Purdom still is keeping score after 527 Purdue games. Counting holiday and NCAA tournaments, Purdom has kept the scorebook for 559 games at Mackey Arena.

“The official scorer quit, and I showed up one night and they said, ‘Al, you’re doing it,’ ” he said. “I’ve been doing it ever since.”

His job? Record points, fouls, timeouts, make sure the jump-ball possession arrow is pointed in the right direction and that substitutions are executed within the rules. If there are any disputes, Purdom’s book is the official record.

He makes the nearly 2½-hour round-trip drive from the southside of Indianapolis, where he works as a commodities broker, for each home game. There have been some travel issues due to the weather, but Purdom has arrived at Mackey Arena prior to every tipoff in time to slip on his black-and-white-striped shirt.

He’s missed two games — one for a wedding, one for a funeral.

Purdom was on the scorer’s bench when current head coach Sharon Versyp played for the Boilermakers starting in 1984. It’s the same with current assistants Kelly Komara and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton. He’s watched the program move from the bottom of the Big Ten to the top, from making the NCAA tournament for the first time in 1989 through its last appearance in 2014.

He’s kept the scorebook for all three Final Four teams — 1994, 1999 and 2001. The 1999 team won the national championship.

“It’s great for Purdue and our program to have someone like Al that has been so passionate and take his job so serious,” Versyp said. “He’s an incredible guy and loves what he does. We’re lucky to have him around Purdue women’s basketball.”

Not only has Purdom witnessed Purdue’s rise, but most of the nation’s top programs — Tennessee, Connecticut, Stanford, Texas, Notre Dame, Louisiana Tech and Old Dominion — have visited West Lafayette.

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