Nearly 21 years ago, Watertown native and Holy Cross High baseball standout Michael Regan celebrated a special moment after being selected to play in an all-star game at Fenway Park.
The once-in-a-lifetime experience got even better when the two-time All-Naugatuck Valley League selection and 1999 All-State first baseman turned on a curveball and belted the 1-1 pitch over the Green Monster, his second hit of the game, during the Connecticut-Massachusetts Senior All-Star game.
The roundtripper culminated a performance that earned him Most Valuable Player honors.
"Their pitcher hung a pitch and the ball landed 20 feet fair of the foul pole and into net," recalled Regan. "Back in those days, there were no seats in left field. I still have that ball and a video of it."
Those keepsakes from Regan's scholastic baseball career, and later at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, then a Division II powerhouse, are still precious, but now located in his rearview mirror.
He admits, though, that his athletic past, dealing with pressured situations and his time-management skills have made a huge difference in his present-day life as a medical doctor.
Back on May 1, Regan, 38, was named the chief of the emergency medicine department at Steward Norwood (Mass.) Hospital, located about an half-hour away from Boston.
For the past three-and-a-half years, Regan had been groomed to be the department head after 10 years as an attending at the hospital. He oversees a staff of 12.
While the COVID-19 outbreak in recent months has changed procedures at his hospital and medical faciilies throughout the country, Regan still does clinical work in the ER.
"I'm doing a lot of remote phone meetings and video conferencing, but once the pandemic clears, I'll be taking a more office-base approach," said Regan. "My hope is for good treatment and a vaccine (soon), and to keep each other safe and healthy."
He has noticed an unfortunate trend, though.
"There are people who are having heart attacks, strokes and appendicitis who really can't wait and are staying at home," said Regan. "That is not a message needed to be sent out. In most suburban and rural areas, people are staying at home with horrible illnesses, probably worse than COVID-19 and need to be treated. They have a lot of fears and are not coming in with lifethreatening emergencies."
Regan's message to them: "If they come in, we're ready to help you."
Working in emergency medicine "had always piqued my interest and the pressure of not knowing what would come in the ER at any time and giving lifesaving care is on you and you need to navigiate through that. When can you take someone who comes into the ER and pointing in a bad direction and outcome and are able to impact them positively and help them recover to have more time with their family and return to a normal life, that is incredibly rewarding.
"People who have critical illnesses, I want to help turn them around in a short period of time and make a positive impact," he said. "That is something I have always wanted to do."
After graduating from Holy Cross, Regan initially attended Division II power Florida Southern College, but failed to make the baseball team as a freshman and opted to transfer schools after just one semester.
Regan caught a break when then UMass-Lowell had Jim Stone heard of Regan's availability.
"Coach Stone left a message on my dad's answering machine one day that he seen me play at Fenway," recalled Regan.
Soon Regan was back in the New England and resumed his career at UMass-Lowell, helping the River Hawks to two Division II College World Series appearances in three seasons.
"I remember days where I would have a three-hour science lab and literally be running across campus to get to practice," he said. "If you didn't catch a (shuttle) bus, you had to hustle. There were a lot of positive moments and I tried to always put my best foot forward."
After graduating in 2003 with a biology and pre-med degree, Regan applied to the SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y., where he graduated in 2007.
"Medical school was trial by fire," admitted Regan. "It was rigorous and demanding, but also forced me to focus more."
A three-year residency followed at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester before he landed at Norwood, where he has found a secure home. Regan and his wife, Kate (Rogers), a 2000 Pomperaug graduate, have three children, Chloe, 8, Sophie, 7, and Max, 5.
Reflecting back to his teenage summer days, he said working at Waterbury Hospital "as a gofer, like changing linen or bringing things to the lab," jumpstarted his calling. His drive and passion to be become a doctor was aided, in part, by his younger brother, Stephen, 36, who is autistic.
"From a very early age, I wanted to try and help people," said Regan. "I got into this profession to take care of patients, and my plan is to continue to do it as long as I possibly can."