Doug Logan, who is 72, recently slogged 22 kilometers with 22 kilograms in his backpack on a group run by military veterans. That number stood for the 22 vets said to commit suicide every day.
The 110 men and women ran in silk skivvies, some did, to attract attention, not raise money. Logan wore red.
Logan was the only runner who served in Vietnam -- 13 months as a forward observer with the 101st Airborne in 1966-67, earning two stars. Vets tend not to tell stories but I have heard a few allusions to the horrors of that mission, plus the challenges of returning to civilian life.
Logan now runs a program for the homeless – many of them veterans -- near his long-time residence of Sarasota, Fla.
I got to know him when he was the first commissioner of Major League Soccer in 1996, a bilingual sports executive (from his family roots in Cuba) who gloried in Valderrama and Etcheverry and Campos of the first years.
Journalists are not supposed to be friendly with the people they cover – ask him about my snide remarks about low attendance and wretched teams in the early years in New Jersey -- but after Logan left that job we stayed in touch. So, yes, he is a friend.
A year ago a city official in Sarasota proposed a job that Logan could never have imagined – come up with housing and programs for the homeless. After careers in entertainment and sports and other businesses, he was commuting to be an adjunct professor at New York University and loving a few days a week in the city, but the offer from Sarasota touched a nerve.
“The best speech ever given is contained in two chapters of Matthew: the Sermon on the Mount. In those principles I hear the call to spend a part of your life doing good,” Logan told me.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5-7.
Some residents of Sarasota fretted about Logan’s hiring, asking, are there not local people with proper degrees in social work? Others have questioned Logan’s departure from the national track and field federation but as a journalist I watched him try to abolish all drug usage, a sure way to become unpopular in that sport.
As for his service in Major League Soccer, I could make the lame joke that anybody who took in itinerants like the ill-fated Nicola Caricola of own-goal MetroStar fame was practicing social work even then. But this is serious stuff.
Logan is living up to the best lesson I remember from college ROTC: “Get the troops out of the hot sun.” That’s not in the Sermon on the Mount, but could be.
David Vecsey's sweet tale of distant love before the Web, now NYT Podcast, narrated by Griffin Dunne. Please see:
George Vecsey is Hofstra University's Alumnus of the Month! Read a Q&A with George here.