ALMA — This was supposed to be Logan Hatcher’s year.
He missed his junior year recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Alma squad fell on some hard times last season.
The school installed Brian Fry, the former Northside head coach and Van Buren American Legion coach, as the new head coach, and Hatcher was set to return.
“This past summer was his first time on the mound since the surgery,” said Fry. “He was so looking forward to it. I was looking forward to watching him. I feel for him. He did everything 100 percent right… the rehab right only to have his senior year taken away like this.”
Fry told a story about how his wife, Tonia Fry, met Hatcher away from the field in a chance encounter.
“Tonia has always been a great judge of character and after she met him she told me ‘everything you said about that kid was true.’ On or off the field, he’s just a genuine young man,” Fry said.
The worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 shut things down across the country. Arkansas suspended school attendance a week before Spring Break and the Arkansas Activities Association installed dead periods and canceled games for high school athletes. Later in April, the 2020 Spring seasons were completely canceled.
Hatcher has been playing baseball since he could walk and he’ll continue his baseball career at Arkansas Tech after he had signed with the Wonder Boys earlier in the school year. He played with Greg Baxendale’s Arkansas Express baseball team during the summers and dabbled with basketball and football. Hatcher signed with Tech as a pitcher after he played both shortstop and pitcher in high school.
“I’ve been going up [to Tech] during the summer camps. I liked the coaches and the facilities, plus it was the only school with the degree I wanted,” said Hatcher. “Once I visited with the coaches and the players, I just fell in love with it.”
Hatcher got involved with baseball with his dad “from the time [he] was able to walk.” Working with Baxendale opened his eyes to the possibility of playing college baseball.
“It’s every little kid’s dream to want to play for college,” Hatcher said. “Once I got with [Baxendale] I could see that I could reach that level. He helped me a lot with everything.”
Hatcher is pursuing a wildlife biology degree to become a conservationist.
“It’s just like baseball. I’ve grown up in the woods… hunting and fishing. I want to do my part to preserve that,” Hatcher said. “I’m not the kind to just be sitting inside all day.”
It wasn’t just the game itself which called Hatcher season after season… practice after practice.
“Baseball was always entertaining to me. I fell in love with it,” said Hatcher. “It was the friends I made as well. That played a big part. Playing with the same kids every summer.”
“I could tell what kind of ballplayer he was just by the way he carried himself. We would sit around and talk after practice to get to know each other. Sometimes it wasn’t even about baseball… just to talk,” said Fry. “We would talk a lot about the players and the culture of the team. He knew what he wanted as an individual, but he and [Drew] Montgomery wanted to know how to change the culture of the team… and they changed it in a matter of months.
“You couldn’t ask for a better guy to get started with my first year as a coach at a school. We both had the same philosophy about the aspects of the game. He worked hard last summer to help get the team to improve so that they could all have a successful year in baseball. You can take it to the bank we’ll all be at Tech next year watching him pitch.”
Hatcher considers himself lucky to play in a variety of venues, from Baum Stadium to Bentonville West’s home field and the Field of Dreams.
“It’s always nice to play at home,” Hatcher said. “I’m looking forward to playing at Tech Field.”
Hatcher was looking forward to the 2020 high school baseball season and has hopes something can be salvaged for the summer season.
“Last year was upsetting. We weren’t getting a lot done,” Hatcher said. “We started with a win [this year] and we were heading in the right direction and the bottom just fell out from under us. We would have opened some people’s eyes. Everyone bought into what Brian was doing. We just needed a chance to prove it. Coach Fry… he’s just so good at what he does and everybody wanted to get better.
“He made it fun and everybody bought into that. Coach Fry was great. I loved him. Everybody loved him. He’s a role model both on and off the field. He’s one of my favorites.”
The loss of the season reinforced what has been taught to him from his dad, Baxendale, and his high school coaches: “Throw every pitch like it’s your last. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Do all that you can every day.”
FUN QUESTIONS WITH LOGAN HATCHER
What is your biggest fear? Letting my teammates down. That’s my number one concern.
If you could have any superpower what would it be? Throw 100 mph. Superman powers.
If you could have any kind of pet what would you want? A bald eagle
What would you be rather doing instead of being quarantined at home? I would rather be playing baseball. It’s supposed to be the middle of the season. I don’t miss the classroom very much, but I miss the practices and all the after school and like that.
Biggest pet peeve? People sticking their hand in my glove.
Do you have any annoying habits? I hate people touching my glove.
What is the first thing you’ll do when this crisis or mess is all over? I’ll probably go to the gym. I miss working out.
Have you gotten caught up on any television shows or reading? I don’t know what to do.