PORTLAND, Maine — For the past 25 years, Jim Knowlen has worked with the Portland Sea Dogs as an usher. It's a job he truly loves and looks forward to.
Ushers like Jim are in charge of enhancing the fan experience at the ballpark, like guiding people to their seats, taking fans' pictures, answering questions, and being there to make sure everyone is having a good time. Knowlen has been doing these things with a smile and lots of energy for more than two decades.
Knowlen is the first one at the ballpark and the last one to leave.
"I love baseball!" he said.
"Jim is one of the originals," head usher Rod MacPhee said.
Jim, or Jimmy, loves interacting with people. When most are trying to get away from a crowd quickly, Knowlen is always in the middle of it, making sure people know where they are headed.
"He's energetic, and he is very devoted ... devoted to the Sea Dogs!" MacPhee added.
Knowlen helps give fans an experience, leading many of them to return.
"When I first started here seven years ago, Jimmy was one of the ushers that I looked to as a leader, for his knowledge, the way he treats the fans," MacPhee said.
"He's probably the hardest working usher we have here, and he takes his job so seriously you can't help but just fall in love with him," Knowlen's boss, Chris Cameron, said.
Knowlen served in the U.S. Army and then was a chef at the University of Southern Maine for almost three decades.
Knowlen shared how he got the job 25 years ago after meeting the Sea Dogs' president at the time, Charlie Eshbach.
"'Charlie, I am a cook at the University of Southern Maine. I am 65 years old. In two years, I will be retiring, and I will like to work for the Sea Dogs. How do I do it?'" he said, recreating the conversation.
A few weeks after submitting his application, Knowlen got the job. He told NEWS CENTER Maine he has no plans to retire soon.
To date, Knowlen has ushered more than 1,700 games.
"I love it," he said.
His advice for living a fulfilling and happy life? Do what fills you, and work hard at what you love.
"When a boss tells me to do something, you have to do it if you want your job. And I want my job!" Knowlen explained.
"Some season ticket holders even buy tickets because of his section," MacPhee said.
"He's got such a presence about him, where he cares about everyone," Cameron said. "I was told once to treat every job as if it's the most important job that you'll ever have, and you'll be successful. Jimmy clearly does that."
People can find and say hi to Knowlen every home game, typically in or around his section, section 103, which is to the left of the Portland Sea Dogs' dugout.