Spring Training is wrapping up and another baseball season is around the corner. That means Christian Elias is getting ready to start his 26th season behind the “Green Monster” at Fenway Park. As the Green Monster Scoreboard Operator for the Boston Red Sox, Christian still maintains his passion for baseball and obviously one of the coolest jobs in all of sports. Just in case that isn’t enough Christian also has spent the last 15 years with Live Nation as Senior Director of Sales so his day job is pretty cool as well.
Have you always had a passion for sports?
Yes, I always had a passion for sports and that was passed down from my dad. Mostly baseball, but also basketball and those are the sports I played as a kid and young adult.
What did you think were cool jobs during your formative years?
That is pretty easy, something to do with Major League Baseball in some capacity. I would eat and sleep or do anything associated with baseball as a kid. It was always a passion that my dad and I shared.
Share a brief history about your career path?
The Green Monster path is pretty easy, because I started 25 years ago out of high school and now some 1,800 games later I still have the same position to this day. I have been fortunate as well on the Live Nation front; it is only slightly different because I have been there for 15 years. When I graduated from college in 1994, I took a job in the athletic department at Emerson College. In my seven years there, I had several roles but evolved to head baseball coach and assistant athletic director. I was also able to obtain my masters in marketing and public relations when I was at Emerson. It was a great time meeting and working with all of those kids, so just a great experience.
Then, in the back of my mind, I always wanted to work for long time concert promotor Don Law. He was a well-known New England promoter and genius in my mind and I always wanted to work for him. I kind of tried a couple times, but in 2001 he took a chance on me and I was hired to be his VIP sales guy at the Pavilion. It was a beautiful 5,000 seat amphitheater right on Boston Harbor overlooking the Boston skyline. That was 15 years ago, but I still have the same office and maybe added “Senior Director” in front of my title at some point, but it has been a good ride. Summers are crazy in my world, juggling both jobs, but I am very lucky and feel very blessed.
How did you obtain your current job?
As a kid growing up in Boston, Fenway Park was hallowed ground and I dreamed of working on the grounds crew. When I was 18 or 19, I asked my dad and he said he would do his best to make it happen. After my dad pulled in some favors, he came back to me and said, “Sorry, no luck on the grounds crew, but how would you feel about working as the scoreboard operator?” At first I was bummed because I really wanted to be on the grounds crew, but I agreed to give it a shot. As a kid, I wasn’t interested in who was behind the wall because you couldn’t see them and the grounds crew was so visible. Obviously, my feelings changed and thanks to my dad, that is how I got the job.
Who inspired you or mentored you along the way or a person to thank?
This is the easiest question because without a doubt it is my father. He has taught me everything over the years. My dad has been at the Antipoverty Agency of Boston for 47 years and is such a giving and helping person. He could have moved on to other jobs over the years, but he believes too much in helping other people. He has served as such an inspiration over the years and made me a better person just by being around him my whole life. I think my success can be attributed to just listening to how he deals with people and his overall integrity and character has helped serve me so well, even in my current job. I draw inspiration from him every day about life and character. Dad has also opened so many doors for me because he is a networker and has introduced me to so many people over the years. He is definitely my hero.
Career highlight or accomplishment you are most proud of?
I will share a fun story about Fenway that I reflect back on with a smile. It was the 1999 All-Star Game in Fenway. That weekend was just a magical weekend for me personally. The interleague thing was still new so it was really fun to have the National League guys here. To have the opportunity to be on the field and near all of those guys was so cool. One of the fun things that happened involved a team photo for the National League that was being taken during a practice session. However, there was a problem right before the photo was taken because they couldn’t find Padres legend Tony Gwynn. Officials looked everywhere for him and paged him throughout the stadium, but right before giving up they found Tony 15 feet away, behind the wall with me. Tony had been asking me a ton of questions about my job and the Green Monster and had no idea it was time for the team photo. So of course that was fun and maybe one of the first guys to ever ask to have his picture taken with me, so it was definitely the highlight of the weekend for me.
Who would you trade jobs with tomorrow if given the chance? Dream job?
(Long pause……) I have been so lucky with the two jobs that I have, so maybe I would take a completely different route. I would love to be in development for an animal organization that would be valuable and helpful to animals. I have a passion for helping animals and so doing something where I could make a difference for animals in need would be cool.
If you took a different career path what would it have been?
There was no plan “B” and I was always “all in” for something related to baseball.
Advice for a kid going to college today who wants to get into sports?
I would say meet with everyone you can and they don’t even have to be in the sports world. When I was looking for a job, my father had me meet with so many people in all industries doing informational interviews. Just spending time with people was so valuable in planting the seed for you and your career. Networking is so important to building relationships with people down the road. Try to make a good impression and let people you know you are out there. One important part of that is also doing a good job of staying in touch after the initial contact. So many people don’t follow up or stay in touch after the introduction. The people who get into sports and music that I hire are the ones that have stayed in touch and drop me a line on a frequent basis. So be persistent without being obnoxious.
Advice for making it in the sports and entertainment industry?
Not sure I am qualified for this question, but I will give it a shot. I have had the same job for 25 years. J
The only thing I have in this business is my name and my character. In my business, I would never go for a short sale and sell them something I know they don’t want. You only have your reputation, so be yourself and don’t compromise any of your values and I think that will go a long way. You have to be genuine, be yourself, don’t compromise your values and as long as you do that and work hard then good things will happen. If you don’t, it will come back to bite you.
Any tips for a good work/life because Sports industry is a grind?
If someone has the answer to that question let me know. I think you have to have the ability to put it in perspective. These are great jobs, but I am not saving anyone’s life. It is all important, but my family is important too, so it is hard. In this business, it is tough because in the sports industry and the concert business it is long nights and many weekends.
In summary, rule #1 would be find yourself a great and understanding partner and rule #2 is put it all in perspective and try to strike a balance. Make sure you don’t become all about work.
Now for a few quick hitters to learn more about Christian……..
Name your dream foursome for dinner? Tom Petty, Mariano Rivera, Van Morrison and my father, Bob Elias
What is your favorite movie of all time? The Natural
Top 3 favorite athletes of all time? Don Mattingly, Mariano Rivera, Mickey Rivers
What was your favorite TV show as a kid or growing up? Magnum P.I.
Favorite game to play as a kid? Whiffle ball
Hobby that would surprise people? World War II buff
Do you have a favorite charity you volunteer with or support? Animal Rescue League of Boston
Childhood idol? Tom Petty
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