PORTLAND, Maine — In 1996, Chris Cameron was selling sodas, hot dogs, chips and other food products at the concession stand at Portland’s Hadlock Field.
The 1995 Brunswick High School graduate and sophomore at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, N.H., had seen an advertisement for a Portland Sea Dogs job fair and wound up applying for a job.
He landed the concession job and, 16 years later, he has worked his way up to assistant general manager/media relations director for the Sea Dogs.
“It has been a wonderful time,” said the 35-year-old Cameron. “Growing up in Brunswick and securing a full-time job with the only professional baseball team in the state is a dream come true for me.”
He spent four months doing an internship in Lakeland, Fla., for the Detroit Tigers, handling a variety of different jobs, but returned to the Sea Dogs and landed a position in the ticket office when “one intern quit and another was fired.”
“I was in the right place at the right time,” said Cameron. “And when the ticket manager resigned, they offered me the job as director of ticket sales.
“I had a full-time position in my home state after my junior year of college,” said Cameron.
He finished his degree through a correspondence course.
He always was interested in media relations and when that position opened up in 2001, he landed the job.
He became the assistant general manager in 2006.
“Chris is really important to the organization,” said Sea Dogs President and General Manager Charlie Eshbach. “He has worked his way up from the concession stand. We’re very pleased with the job he has done. We get a lot of media attention, being affiliated with the Red Sox and being the only pro baseball team in the state. So it’s important for us to get the word out.
“When something needs to be done, you don’t have to tell Chris. He’s already done it,” added Eshbach.
Cameron’s game days at Hadlock Field are particularly long but he doesn’t mind.
“I just hope there aren’t too many 17-inning games like yesterday,” quipped Cameron, referring to the parent Red Sox’s 17-inning 9-6 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.
He’ll get to Hadlock Field at 7:30 a.m. and leave “about an hour and a half after the game ends.”
When the team is on the road, he’s preparing for the next homestand.
His job involves keeping statistics, arranging player interviews, dispensing information about the team and helping the media cover the team.
“Social media has become big with Facebook and Twitter,” said Cameron, who is also occasionally involved with ticket sales.
He said being the assistant general manager hasn’t altered his job description much.
“They value my opinion a little bit more. I help solve problems. If there’s a fan issue, I’ll take care of that. They know I can make decisions,” said Cameron.
Cameron said he couldn’t work for better people than the Burke family, who own the team, and Eshbach.
He said his favorite part of the job is “seeing players we’ve had here go up and have success at the big league level. I also enjoy seeing 7,000 fans here having a good time. That means we’ve done our jobs right.
“As a staff, we like to have fun. If the fans see us having fun, it creates a fun atmosphere for them,” said Cameron.
His biggest thrill so far has been when the Sea Dogs won the Eastern League playoff championship in 2006.
“At the time my brother Tony was the assistant director of ticket sales for the team. It was nice to share it with him,” said Cameron.
Another fond memory occurred in 2005 when the Eastern League All-Star game was held in Portland.
“We held a lobster bake for the players on Peaks Island. We took them out on boats. It was a first-time experience for a lot of the guys. They loved it,” said Cameron.
The most impressive Sea Dog he has seen was Josh Beckett. The Sea Dogs used to be affiliated with the Florida Marlins and Beckett pitched with the Sea Dogs in 2001 on his way up to the big leagues.
“In his debut, he struck out eight of the first nine hitters he faced and he hit the other one. I’ve never seen anyone put up the numbers he did that year with us. He was dominant,” said Cameron.
Cameron doesn’t lose sight of the fact that he used to be a 15-year-old who idolized Red Sox players and now many of the Red Sox know him on a first-name basis because of their time spent in Portland.
“I get up in the morning and when I get to work, my office is at a baseball field,” said Cameron.
He is quite content to be at the AA level.
“I have no desire to move up,” said Cameron, who is married to the former Sarah Begin of Portland. “I love what minor league baseball is all about and I love the city of Portland. I’m just going to keep looking to better myself. I want the Sea Dogs to continue to have success and I want to make sure the fans have a good time. Hopefully, they all enjoy baseball just as much as I do.”