For The Love Of The Game And 42 (03/16/20)

(Photos submitted) Above: Logan donning number 42 for the Clarion Cougars team managed by Lee Weber.

At a time when it looks like sports is on hold for the foreseeable future, we could probably all use a nice, feel-good baseball story.

Often when alluding to the movie “The Sandlot,” about a group of neighborhood kids who played day after day, throughout the summer, I say “that was us,” a sentiment that guys from anywhere around the country, growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, could echo.

Just a bunch of kids enjoying “America’s Pastime.” But you may remember that one of the kids’ love and passion for the game, far outdistanced that of the others, the neighborhood team leader, Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez.

The others may have enjoyed the game, but as the narrator, the grown-up Scotty Smalls stated, “For Benjamin Franklin Rodriguez, baseball was life.” Well Clarion, we have a young man in the area who has a Benny Rodriguez-esque, passion and love for the game, Logan Lutz. For Logan, the son of Todd and Diane Lutz, “baseball is life.”

I became familiar with Logan’s extreme passion for the game, and some great experiences it has brought him, from some of his parents’ Facebook posts. I was so impressed that I just needed to share the story. But, Logan’s first person account will show where his passion for the game and its history, especially the history of his favorite player, comes from, and some of the great experiences it has brought him, far better than I ever could.

Take it away, Logan…

Hello, my name is Logan Lutz. I am 13 years old and in 7th grade at Clarion-Limestone High School. I want to thank Clarion Sports Zone for encouraging me to share my story.

As a child I was fascinated by my Papa telling me stories about the players from the Golden Era of baseball. The Golden Era is the time period from 1920 to 1960. Five of my favorite players from that Era are Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Babe Ruth. After my Papa passed away, my dad continued sharing his knowledge with me about baseball. My dad and I would play catch together and he would share his baseball cards collection with me.

When I was five years old, I got to play on my first baseball team. Getting up to bat was my favorite thing to do. As the years went on, I played tee ball, minor league, little league, and travel ball. My favorite experience so far was little league, because I made the All-Star team twice, and we went to States twice.

Clarion Legion Team, Coach Bill Smith giving Logan some pitching tips.

Many people influenced me along the way. The Coach that has influenced me the most is Bill Smith. Coach Bill Smith pushed me to do better and never gave up on me.

Ed and (his son, minor league baseball player) Jon Kemmer have also influenced me. They both have spent many hours with me in the batting cage at The Garage. They have helped me work on my batting stance, swing, and work ethic. A huge shout out to Cole Heffner, Kane McCall, and Tanner Klein for also helping me along my baseball journey.

Logan working with Ed Kemmer

My all-time favorite player is Jackie Robinson. He is my favorite baseball player because he broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. He paved the way for other nationalities to come into Major League Baseball.

When I am able to choose my jersey number, I choose the number 42 to represent and honor Jackie Robinson. Since I am too young to have met Jackie Robinson, I wrote a letter to his wife Rachel Robinson. In my letter to Rachel Robinson I explained what Jackie Robinson means to me and why I wear the number 42.

I also asked for her signature on a baseball because that is the closest I will get to Jackie Robinson. I packed all my pictures, letter, and baseball up and sent it to the Jackie Robinson Foundation in Brooklyn New York. It came back in a month and it had Rachel Robinson’s signature on the baseball. When I held the signed baseball in my hand it felt like it was a part of history. I now feel in some way connected to Jackie Robinson.

Logan with baseball signed by Rachel Robinson, widow of Jackie Robinson.

We took a trip down to watch Jon Kemmer play at Nashville, when he was playing for the Fresno Grizzlies. On our way we stopped at the Louisville Slugger Museum and factory in Louisville Kentucky. One of the first exhibits was a game used bats that you can hold and look at. The curator of the exhibit asked me who my favorite baseball player is, and I said, “Jackie Robinson.” He said, “You are in luck. We just received a game used bat by Jackie Robinson from a private collector.” We had to wear batting gloves or white gloves, so the oils on your hands don’t ruin the bat. The bat was 36 inches and 38 ounces. I held the bat and it was heavy and so cooooooool. I didn’t want to leave the exhibit.

Logan, with Jackie Robinson game used bat, at the Louisville Slugger Museum

Most recently I got a really cool phone call from the number one prospect for the Anaheim Angels, by the name of Jo Adell. I got the phone call because, my parents friend Chad Miller has a passion for sports and kids being active in sports. Chad was having dinner with Jo Adell and thought it would be cool if he called me and said hello. We talked for five minutes about baseball. It made me feel excited that Jo Adell would take time out of his day to call a kid that he doesn’t know a thousand miles away. Thank you to Chad Miller for making that happen.

Logan with Jon at Rochester Redwings Game

I have been fortunate to have some amazing opportunities because of my friends, family, and coaches. This year will be no different as I play travel ball with the KSAC Oilers for coach Mac Minich and coach Eric Harrison wearing the number 42 on my back. Thank you to everyone who has supported me in sports.

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

Jackie Robinson

Logan pitching for the KSAC Oilers Fall 2019, managed by Eric Harrison and Mac Minich.

(Thank you for this fine article Logan. Keep livin’ the dream and keep your passion for baseball history and Number 42!!!!)

(More photos below)

Clarion Little League All-Stars
Logan on the base path for the Dugout coached by Bill Smith
Jon Kemmer and Logan finishing up a workout at The Garage.