Valley Pike: Doug Toan: witness to history (darn him)

Posted: November 7, 2013

“I’m glad we got up off the couch and made that call. It was a lot of fun. I still got a grin on my face.”

— Doug Toan

I’d been fiddling with a cute, and pseudo-nasty, way to begin this column, something along the lines of “Boy, do I hate that Doug Toan guy. I simply can’t stand him.”

But even in jest — and in such a feel-good column, to boot — hate is a ridiculously strong and unbecoming word. Particularly with a fella like Doug who, in addition to being a fellow Randolph-Macon grad, is one of the truly nice guys in town.

Jealousy and green-with-envy? I’ll dispose of those, too, even though when I heard where Doug and his wife Jean were last Wednesday night, my initial thought was, “Hot damn, I wish that were me.”

Doug and Jean, you see, were witnesses to baseball history. Seated in the first deck, just above the first-base line, at Fenway Park, they saw my beloved Red Sox claim their first world’s championship on home turf in 95 years.

On Tuesday morning, Doug, 63, relived the grand extended moment — well, the whole day actually, from his and Jean’s afternoon down around Fanueil Hall to his walk atop the Green Monster — for my vicarious enjoyment.

His quickie assesment: “A Mardi Gras atmosphere ... a sports fan’s delight, definitely something to check off my bucket list.”

As Doug tells it, the whole experience started the previous Monday night, when it became apparent the Sox, then winning Game Five of the World Series in St. Louis, could possibly clinch the title two nights later on the sacred Fenway greensward.

Around the sixth inning, Jean, who grew up in Medford, Mass., along the Paul Revere trail, dialed a friend up Boston way and said, “Let’s go to Game Six.” By the eighth inning, the Toans has procured tickets via StubHub.

Doug did not say how much they actually paid for the hottest tickets in America, only that it was less, per seat, than the $2,400 average price quoted in USA Today.

After a leisurely afternoon moseying around Boston, already in the throes of high security due to President Obama’s visit earlier in the day, the Toans got to The Fens when the gates opened two hours before game time. Doug watched batting practice as the stadium, electric with anticipation, filled up quickly. And then the rolling cheers and standard musical fare — “Dirty Water,” for example, and the Dropkick Murphys singing the National Anthem — began.

Tension usually builds in Series games, but this one ended early, when the Sox took a 6-0 lead after four innings. “The place went nuts,” Doug said, when Shane Victorino rocketed a three-run double high off the Monster in the third. In time, he said, he could sense the Cards’ resignation. As in 2004, they were unwitting foils to Bosox magic. The celebration started early.

And this town, and this team, had much to celebrate — and not just a worst-to-first finish and a championship won at home, but a community “rallying” in the face of grief and sorrow, residue of the horrific marathon bombing.

Thus, in the wake of triumph came an odd juxtaposition — police on horses and full riot gear, ready for anything, and fans, joyful about their “Sawx,” poised to embrace these first responders whose grace and valor epitomized the “Boston Strong” spirit.

All season long, or at least since the Patriot Day bombing, there wasmagic in the air — so palpable the bearded Bosox “grasped it,” Doug said, and rode it to victory.

“And this night,” he concluded, “was the culmination. It all ended like in a storybook.”

Doug and Jean left Fenway after the trophy presentation and rode the jammed “T” back to their hotel — the “storybook” closed and the bucket list checked, but the “grin” still evident.

Not just Doug’s, but mine, too.