Fenway Park's Monster Keeper

What is almost 40 feet tall and has been signed by everyone from Usain Bolt to Mariano Rivera? The Green Monster at Fenway Park, sport's most iconic boundary. You may be saying, Back up! Why is it so tall? Why are there so many signatures inside it?

It all began in 1912, when a 10-foot wooden wall was built so that no one from the street could see the game. At the time, it wasn't even green!

In 1934, the structure we know today started to take shape. A manual scoreboard was added. The 10-foot wall was replaced with a 37-foot one. In 1947, all ads were removed so the boundary could be painted... you guessed it: green.

Flash forward to 2016 as you take your first steps inside the Green Monster. You watch in amazement as Christian Elias shows you how to operate the scoreboard. But as you're in the middle of asking a question, you hear a really loud noise that sounds like an explosion. You panic and run for cover. Then you see everyone is laughing at you. A ball had hit the Green Monster.

I spoke with Elias about the wall's history, funny moments, and the signatures.

Do you feel a sense of history while you're in the wall?

Absolutely. The history, the tradition — for years I've always thought that I'm half scorekeeper and half museum curator because everyone is just so interested in the history of the scoreboard. It's a really special place, and even though I've been here for a long time, the magic doesn't fade.

Who are the most famous people to sign the wall?

Baseball-wise probably Manny Ramirez, but Mariano Rivera used to come visit us. Neil Diamond, the singer, has signed it. And Tom Petty.

What is the funniest story about the wall?

Manny was once in here talking to us during a pitching change, and we didn't realize that the game had started again. The pitcher was in his windup, so Manny had to hurry out.

How many people work with you?

There are five of us, but only three are back here on any given day.

What prior experience made you qualified for the job?

[Laughs] I was 18, so it was more about being lucky and being in the right place at the right time.

Are you a Red Sox fan?

I'm a baseball fan. I love coming to the park all the time and being a part of this, and I'm very thankful for this experience. It's been a wild ride.

What's the view from the Monster?

It's a unique view. I've come to love it because I can see what's going on, I can hear everything, and see all the ballplayers. I haven't sat in the stands at a game in 26 years, so it's the only view that I know.

What was the most fun season?

I think 1999, with the All-Star Game. It was an unbelievable experience — everything leading up to it, the Home Run Derby, meeting a lot of the National League players for the first time.

What do you do when nature calls?

We try not to drink a lot, and once you get used to that you get pretty good at holding it.

Photos: Damian Strohmeyer

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