Time Out: April 16, 2014

They are a rarity, human gems, forces of positive power who have the capacity of always leaving you feeling better at the end of a conversation than you did when the talk began. Call them optimists, call them idealists, they are unique folks who live in the now with the rare capacity to celebrate the moment and simply refuse to even entertain ideas they don’t want to happen.
Motivated, purposeful and steadfast, you’re fortunate if you meet a half dozen or so of these folks in a lifetime. Good fortune introduced me to one such source of unconditional positive vibes this weekend, a young man named Logan Barer.
I actually met Logan via e-mail the week before Christmas in 2013. I host a sports radio show. Each December in my Christmas show, I sing sports themed Christmas carols penned by New York Post Sports Columnist Mike Vaccaro. My show is on Friday; Vacarro’s column comes out on the Sunday before Christmas and last year Christmas was on Monday. That meant if I used the Vaccaro carols it would have to be after Christmas Day.

Can’t get enough
Obsessed with sports as I am, I also write for a popular sport fan site called Mets Merized. The owner of the site, Joe DeCaro, was a December guest on my radio show. I suggested that perhaps we could pen a post encouraging Met fans who visit the site to craft some Met themed holiday songs and send them my way. I could select seven or eight to perform on the show. Joe loved the idea.
One of the songs I selected was submitted by Logan Barer. When I emailed Logan and asked for a short biography, I learned Logan was a freshman at Ithaca College who would be trying out for the Bombers’ baseball team. I passed along to Logan that I was a coach of a high school baseball team and a friendship built around a love of baseball evolved.
Positive people like Logan are not exempt from experiencing the negative side of life. It’s the way they process and respond to adversity that is rare and unique. In Logan’s case, his early life was heaped with tribulations. At nine, Logan was diagnosed with stage-three melanoma, skin cancer. As Logan says it, “I’ve already looked death in the eye.”

Long recovery
Logan’s recovery program stretched for two long years and his general health is monitored to this day. During the two years of intense treatment, Logan couldn’t play baseball, the game he loves. But, the young Logan Barer never lost sight of his dream to someday play the major league game. He received countless injections battling his cancer but absolutely would not allow a single one in his right arm, his pitching arm.
Logan doesn’t look at those two years as lost years, instead he marvels about what he learned about people: the incredible medical people who cared for him, his teachers and classmates, and family and friends who cared deeply and extended themselves freely for him. His Make a Wish trip was to Alaska, an unusual choice for a most unusual young man.
I knew Logan was someone very special indeed, when shortly after the radio show where I sang his song (that’s a scary enough thought in itself) he sent me an e-mail saying my voice sounded like a cross between Perry Como and Neil Diamond. That’s really finding the positive where none should really be found. Logan also suggested he visit Margaretville to hold a January baseball clinic for our Blue Devil baseball guys. He and his dad had conferred with maps and believed they could get from Logan’s Connecticut home to Margaretville in three hours or so. His dad was willing to make the trip if I could arrange a clinic over his winter break. Logan wrote that should his major league dream not materialize he thought he might like to coach baseball, and he’d love a chance for a head start. I was dumbfounded. Unfortunately, I was headed for Florida in January and wasn’t available to host Logan’s baseball event.

Kept up to date
Logan kept me informed during his varsity baseball tryout in Ithaca. He was steadfast in his belief he would make the team. He did. I kept him informed about my worries that we might not have the numbers to field a varsity team in Margaretville and my fear that baseball in the Catskills is in serious decline.
So, this weekend, I made a trip to Ithaca to watch Logan’s team take on Utica College in a Saturday doubleheader. Logan didn’t get to pitch. He worked in relief to win his first varsity game on Sunday. Even so, Saturday was an incredible day. Logan’s roommate, John, a kid who wants to become a sports journalist, sat next to me during the games. I met his dad who was visiting from Connecticut. And Logan had a ticket waiting for me and his dad to attend a Seth Meyer’s comedy show Saturday night after the games.

A crazy day
It was a crazy day, an incredible time as this amazing young man allowed me to step into his Ithaca world just long enough to experience first hand how unique and remarkable he really is.
I feel fortunate having had the opportunity to meet Logan and his dad. Logan is one of the special ones, living proof that positive anything always beats negative nothing.