One constant of the Charlotte Knights in Fort Mill is Beverly Burnette

mbanks@comporium.netAugust 6, 2013 

MAC BANKS - SPECIAL TO THE FORT MILL TIMES

This is Part I of a series looking back at Knights Stadium during the final month of the team’s existence in Fort Mill.

The Charlotte Knights have a rich history in Fort Mill, and Beverly Burnette has been there for every pitch.

Burnette, who works in guest services, has been with the Knights since day one. Scratch that. Burnette has been with the Charlotte O’s since day one when the club started in 1976.

She seen the resurgence of minor league baseball in the Queen City and she was there when it left to come across the border to Fort Mill. And God willing, she will be there when the moving vans load the last item up and take the Knights back to Charlotte after this season.

“I have outlasted every general manager we have ever had,” Burnette joked.

Burnette has always worked in the guest services department. She got started with the O’s by accident; she was going to try it out for a summer and ended up staying for 37 seasons.

“My sister and I were going to the Olympics that year and I was going to be gone half the summer, and Frances [Crockett, former O’s general manager/owner] said ‘Try it and see if you like it and you will know,’” she said.

On a typical work day for Burnette, she guides people through Knights Stadium, telling them where the bathrooms are, where they can get a program, where to buy peanuts and things like that.

The guest services window is located on the main concourse, so Burnette gets to see some action in left field, unless a vendor sets up in front of her.

“I don’t get to see a whole lot of the game,” she said. “If they put a cart there, I don’t have a clue.”

A retired art teacher from Central Cabarrus High School in North Carolina, Burnette has seen thousands of minor-league players pass through Charlotte and Fort Mill on their way to the major leagues.

Some of the big names included Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.; his brother, Billy Ripken; future Hall of Famer Jim Thome; and managers Charlie Manuel, Manny Ramirez, Joe Crede and Joe Borchard, just to name a few.

The one player who stands out to her through the years was Billy Ripken. Because of his personality, Burnette said, she was able to get to know him pretty well.

Burnette recalls when they were building the Knights’ current location in Fort Mill.

“When they were building this park and we set out in a trailer with the field out there, we watched them build it,” Burnette said.

The Knights will be moving next year into a new $54 million, 10,000-seat stadium in Uptown Charlotte, leaving the familiar confines of Fort Mill. Opening day for the stadium is schedule for April 11.

Burnette said she is looking forward to seeing the new stadium and having the team back in Charlotte.

“I just excited about going downtown,” she said.

But she will miss Fort Mill.

“The fans really like it here,” she said. “They are very loyal. The people have been so nice. The people that come here are diehard baseball fans. It doesn’t matter who is playing.”

When it’s all said and done, Burnette said she plans on writing a book, “Through the Window.”

Sounds fitting, considering it’s been her view at guest services for the past 24 years the Knights have been in Fort Mill.

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