Logan Gear’s dream, even as he battled a rare form of pediatric cancer that claimed his kidney, was to meet players on his favorite team, the Washington Nationals. Six years ago, when the cancer first appeared and spread around one of then 6-year-old Logan’s kidney and up to his lungs, doctors had to remove his kidney. He underwent chemotherapy for six months, sending the cancer into remission since then. At the time, the Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted the Gear family. Logan, now 12, said his wish was to visit with his favorite players in spring training.
This week, Logan, his parents, J.R. and Jennifer, and 6-year-old sister Jordan flew down from Fairfax and arrived in Viera on Tuesday night. They watched Wednesday’s game against the New York Mets, and one of Logan’s favorite players, Bryce Harper, gave him his batting gloves.
On Thursday, they all watched a game against the Houston Astros. And on Friday, as most of the regular players stayed back for a morning workout with the team on the road in Jupiter, Logan played catch with Adam LaRoche and his son Drake. He shagged fly balls and chatted with Ian Desmond. He took batting practice with Ryan Zimmerman watching. He was even escorted around the clubhouse to get autographs, including one from Stephen Strasburg.
“It’s been really good,” said a soft-spoken Logan, who also lists LaRoche, Zimmerman, Strasburg and Desmond among his favorite players. “It’s been great to see Logan get his wish,” said his father, J.R.
After the discovery of the cancer and Wilms’ tumor in 2006, Logan underwent surgery and treatment. By 2007, his condition improved, and he still has periodic checkups with the doctors. Treatments complicated fulfilling Logan’s wish back then, and recently the timing wasn’t right for the Gear family. This year, however, it worked out. Make-A-Wish Foundation coordinated with the Nationals, funded the trip, and the Nationals gave them the tickets.
Logan, a tall and quiet kid wearing a Nationals sweatshirt and hat, was wide-eyed during Friday’s workout. LaRoche threw with Logan before batting practice. Desmond, a father of two, took Logan to the outfield to shag fly balls. Logan, a little league pitcher and first baseman in Fairfax, used Drake’s bat to take batting practice. He sprayed balls around the infield. A pitch accidentally hit Logan in the side and the players all laughed. Logan smiled.
“Welcome to the club,” Desmond said.
“Go out there and get him,” Zimmerman added, referring to the coach throwing batting practice.
Later, Logan toured the clubhouse and Zimmerman gave him a bat with a personalized message and signature.
“As a kid, you always remember wanting to meet those guys and playing baseball and having fun,” Zimmerman said. “To go through something that doesn’t allow you to be a kid for a little while, it’s sad. For him to get a chance to come down with his family, forget about things for a little while, get away from everything, and just have some fun, and just be a kid is always cool… It kinda gives you a little bit, when you’re having a tough day and kinda step back and look and see how much worse it could be.”
Added Harper: “That’s unbelievable. Just having him out there, being able to do that, it puts a smile on everybody’s faces, especially him and his family. And making a kid’s day like that is top notch.”