Watch him play shortstop, and it all looks the same. Sunglasses. Flat bill. A swipe of the dirt with his foot between pitches. He crouches in, and he steps forward. He’s ready. This part’s easy.
Baseball never left Logan Herd, even when the rest of his life did.
During a fall league game in September, the Hurst L.D. Bell senior suffered two concussions within minutes that triggered significant retrograde amnesia. In an instant, he forgot everything.
He forgot his parents, his little brother, his teammates. He forgot teachers and classmates. Seventeen years of memories and relationships were gone.
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“You don’t know where you’re at, period. You don’t even know you’re in the United States of America,” Herd said. “I pretty much had to start over from scratch on everything.”
So he did, working his way back to school and back to the baseball team as a starting pitcher and shortstop. Bell’s season ended Friday, but Herd still has this summer with his select team, the Dallas Patriots. And next year, he’ll play college baseball at Fort Hays State, a Division II school in Kansas.
He committed to Fort Hays the day before his injury, forcing him to relearn that, too.
Memory loss from concussions isn’t abnormal, said Dr. Damond Blueitt, who treated Herd at Ben Hogan Sports Therapy Institute in Fort Worth. But when it happens, it often affects recollection about recent events or the injury that caused the concussion.
Usually, amnesia patients regain their memory within a year, Blueitt said. Herd hasn’t remembered anything yet. His injury, which caused no structural damage to his brain, essentially did what a select-all and delete function does on a computer.
“Whenever I first got back into the swing of things, other people thought I was faking it,” Herd said. “I’d walk into school and meet five or six new people every day.”
‘He doesn’t know anybody’
For all he knows, Herd’s life began Sept. 23, the night of his injury. He doesn’t remember how he got hurt, but his parents, Mike and Angie Herd, do.
Logan was playing shortstop when a ball was hit to the hole. Logan dove right, landing hard. By the end of the inning, he returned to the dugout in a fog. Then he stepped into the batter’s box and roped a pitch to the outfield.
Trying to stretch a double, he slid head first into second base. When he did, the brim of his helmet hit the bag hard, causing a second concussion. The umpire called him out, and he wandered to the dugout.
“Then one of the kids, he runs up to the stands and tells us that Logan is crying, that he doesn’t know anybody, and he’s hurting,” Mike said. “I remember him coming out of the corner of the dugout and someone’s helping him and he has no idea who I am. He has no clue.”
Mike and Angie took him to the emergency room, and he was released that night. The next day, as his symptoms worsened, he was taken to the Hogan Concussion Center in Fort Worth.
How and why Logan’s amnesia was so severe is unknown.
“The thing about it is the brain is very complicated,” Blueitt said. “It just so happened that when he hit, that portion of the brain got affected.”
In outpatient rehab at the Brain Injury Transitional Services program at Texas Health Harris Methodist in Fort Worth, Logan worked with neuropsychologists and speech and vision therapists. Though he remembered his name and how to read and write, his vocabulary was at a third-grade level.
The amnesia itself won’t increase his risk for future concussions, Blueitt said. Coupling that with the fact that baseball is a low-contact sport, Logan was cleared to play.
“If he’s functioning in school, there’s no reason he can’t progress back into everything,” Blueitt said. “[Another concussion] should not affect the retrograde amnesia. It’s not going to make it worse.”
At school, he started going half-days before returning full-time late last semester. He’s still learning the basics.
Two weeks ago, he discovered Martin Luther King Jr. Last week, he learned about the Watergate scandal. Now he knows six presidents: Nixon, Washington, Lincoln, both Bushes and Obama.
At home, family pictures confused him. So did a Dallas Mavericks poster in his room. Before his injury, he was a Rangers fan. Now he likes the Royals. Early on, his parents took turns sleeping on the couch, because they thought Logan would leave in the middle of the night.
“It was literally like having a stranger in the house,” Mike said.
A month after the injury, Logan was riding in the passenger seat of his dad’s truck. On the speaker phone was his dad’s friend, who asked Logan who was driving the truck.
“That’s Mike,” Logan said.
“Yeah,” the friend said, “but he and Angie are your parents, too.”
Logan thought about it.
“Yeah, I guess they are,” he said, “since they’re always taking care of me.”
Playing baseball was about the only thing that always felt normal.
“Once he was [medically] released, as far as baseball fundamentals and baseball skill, he did not have to start over there,” Bell coach Paul Gibson said.
Logan’s first game back this spring was, “one of the best days of my life.”
He wants to look forward to moments like that.
“People only have so much hope and my hope kind of ran out waiting on my memory to come back,” he said. “So I kind of forced myself to let it go. Let’s work on the future.”
Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7760