Every little League needs a Tom Doran. A volunteer who will take any work title for the betterment of the organization — coach, groundskeeper, concession stand clerk, umpire, advocate, or leader.
If something needed to be done for the league, Tom did it. No questions asked.
That’s why eight years after his death, Peter J. Foley Little League still remembers Tom. Earlier this month, the league wrapped up its annual post-season baseball tournament, the Tom Doran Memorial Tournament.
Teams from all over the state came to the field on Scott Street over the last month. They competed in a tournament that bears the name of a man who spent most of his adult life making the little league experience better.
“Naming the tournament after Tom means every year his name will be brought up,” said Mike Falcha, who was president of the league when Tom died in 2002. “People ask, ‘who is Tom Doran?’ We’re happy to explain.”
Tom, who eventually became vice president of Peter J., constantly gave his most precious resource: time. Volunteering wasn’t a burden to Tom; it seemed like a pleasure.
“He loved the idea of youth baseball,” said Mike Doran, Tom’s son. “There was something about that molding of young men into better players and people. Helping out at Peter J. was almost like his getaway, or sanctuary.”
Mike engaged in some of his dad’s work at the field.
“I can remember going down there with him and helping him weed under the bleachers on a Saturday morning,” said Mike, now 31. “Not that he was the only one down there, but it meant a lot to him.”
Tom not only did some of the labor, he also did the talking. When it came time to help build the wall near the batting cages, Tom ironed out a deal with a construction company to buy the concrete, deliver it to the field and put it in place.
“I don’t know what he told the company, but we got everything we needed at cost,” Falcha recalled. “We have a lot of great volunteers, don’t get me wrong, but Tom did more than his fair share.”
Tom’s ability to communicate served the league well. Falcha said Tom inspired people to help out at the league.
While Falcha was president, there were times when Tom would also be asked to intervene and be a sort of goodwill ambassador.
“There would be a situation where I might fly off the handle,” Falcha said with a laugh. “Tom would step in and go talk to them for me. He had that personality to deal with people.”
This year’s tournament was extra special for Mike Doran, who continues to be active in baseball as a player and an umpire. He was the plate umpire for the championship game, which a team from Trumbull won.
“I think it’s important to give back some time to a league that my dad started at as my minor league coach in 1987,” Mike said, “and to do it in his honor.”
Mike said he believed his dad would still be involved with Peter J. in some capacity if he were today. The tournament named in Tom’s honor, and the memories Tom left behind, are still alive for those who remember his generous deeds and kind words.
The naming of the tournament ensures Tom’s impact will not be forgotten.
“For me, this is something I can tell my daughter,” Mike said. “That’s pretty cool and it will better convey his legacy to her.”