Bob Knight, 79
Bob Knight has a lot of resilience and a sense of humor that will ease any situation. Ask him if he has bowled and played softball all of his life and he quickly replies, “Not yet!”
The Pittsburgh area native has needed both of those qualities to overcome the many medical procedures that keep coming his way. He starts ticking them off. “I made a list. I’ve been put under sedation 18 times,” he says matter of factly. “Let’s see – I’ve had a disc removed and replaced, a stint placed in my heart, one angioplasty, and two inversions and ablations from having AFIB, which I’ve been clear of for five years,” he says, drawing a breath. “Then I’ve had a gall bladder removed, hip replacement, a double hernia, a shoulder operation, a scoped knee and two melanoma operations – one was pretty severe. Then I’ve had a varicose vein operation and other stuff so I guess I’ve had everything.”
After a pause, Bob adds, “My wife is getting tired of driving me to the emergency room.”
As a testimony to his resilience, Bob has not missed a season of softball, which he began playing 63 years ago. When he found out he had a double hernia after bowling, he had the procedure two weeks later on a Wednesday and was bowling again the following Tuesday. “And believe it or not, I bowled a 700 series that night,” he chuckles.
Bob bowls in two leagues and is the oldest player at 79, with most others in their 50’s. “I rib ‘em pretty good when I beat ‘em,” he laughs, “And they come right back at me. They’re a bunch of good guys and I look forward to bowling with them in the winter as much as I enjoy playing softball in the summer.”
In May, Bob helped his Steel City 75+ team win a Gold Medal at the recent 2023 National Senior Games Softball Championships presented by Humana in Columbus, Ohio, and he is excited for the chance to take down his share of bowling pins in his other favorite sport when the rest of the Games get underway in Pittsburgh. While he loves the camaraderie found in Senior Games, he has his eyes on the prize.
“I’m a competitive individual and I think that’s what drives me,” he shares. “In a situation where something is critical, I want to be the one in that spot.” He’s been in a lot of tight spots in sports and with his own health history, and he attributes his continuing survival and recovery to the fact that he has remained active his entire life.
“I’ve been blessed, there’s no two ways about that. I feel like a NASCAR driver – I go bang it up and get the doctor to put me back together,” he laughs. “But my heart doctor told me it’s mostly about the patient. Some go home and sit on the couch, and some will rehab or get themselves well some way.
“I think it’s in your mind,” he concludes. “Do you want to do what you need to do or are you going to just wait and let it run its course?”