2017 INDUCTEE - DON LOGAN
By David Elwell
The Decatur Daily
Success seemed to always follow Don Logan
Don Logan says his only claim to fame in sports came in 1962 when he caught an elbow in the mouth from Danville's Joe Milsap during a basketball game in the Morgan County Tournament. Because the cut was bleeding so badly, Logan went to the hospital. After receiving 10 stitches, he returned to the gym in Hartselle, re-entered the game and hit the game-winning free throws that gave Hartselle a 67-65 overtime win over Danville.
"That was the greatest comeback I ever saw in a high school basketball game," said William Booth, who has called Logan his best friend since they met in the third grade. "Danville had a great team that went on to win the state championship that year. It was a great win for Hartselle and Don was a hero that night.
Maybe that was Logan's only claim to fame in sports, but it's not Logan's only claim to success. He became one of the top media executives in the country as Chairman and CEO of Time Inc. He oversaw the company from New York for 11 years before retiring to come back to Alabama in 2005.
Retirement for many could be fishing or watching baseball games. Logan took it to the next level. In 2006, he was part of a group that purchased B.A.S.S., the largest bass anglers organization in the country. "Owning (B.A.S.S.) is every retired man's dream," Logan said. That same year, Logan and his sons purchased the Birmingham Barons baseball team and moved the Southern League team from Hoover to the brand new Regions Field in Birmingham. "I remember when I was a kid and reading about the Birmingham Barons in the newspaper," Logan said. "It's hard to believe that I now own the team." Logan said that growing up he had no plan for his future after high school. When he was not playing basketball, football or baseball, he was working different jobs from picking cotton to construction to helping in a grocery store.
"Don was the best athlete and smartest person in our class," Booth said. "He was a whiz at math and I thought whatever he did (with his life) would be in the field of math."
Logan and Booth went to college together to what is now the University of North Alabama to get degrees in math. After one year, Logan transferred to Auburn to become a co-op student where he would go to school a semester and then work a semester.
"I got married and needed the money," Logan said. "I was fortunate that I got to co-op at NASA in Huntsville. This was in the 1960s when we were racing to the moon."
Logan's work for NASA was in the new field of writing computer programs. After graduating from Auburn, he got his M.S. from Clemson and joined Shell Oil in Houston. After two years in Texas, he wanted to return to Alabama. He found a job in the newspaper want ads with Progressive Farmer in Birmingham doing data processing in 1970.
"In those days not a lot of people had experience with that kind of work," Logan said. "I don't know that I knew that much about it, but I had experience with it going back to working at NASA."
Logan made his mark with Progressive Farmer, that later became Southern Progress, when he took over the book publishing division. "They were about to shut it down and they gave me a chance to see what I could do with it," Logan said. "I always loved books." Booth said Logan was known for being an avid reader when they were growing up. "His dad would take him to the library in Decatur all the time to check out books," Booth said. "He would read everything. I think his goal was to read every book in the library and he probably did." After the publishing division turned a profit, Logan soon became executive vice president of the company. In 1986, Time Inc. acquired Southern Progress. Logan was promoted to chairman and chief executive officer. Six years later he was in New York as chief operating officer of Time Inc. Under his direction the company had 11 straight years of earnings growth.
In 2002, Logan became chairman of AOL Time Warner's Media and Communications Group. "I was fortunate that a lot of good things happened along the way," Logan said. One of the rewards of being the boss at Time Inc. is having your name at the top of the masthead of the country's most famous sports magazine - Sports Illustrated. One of the perks is the opportunity to attend just about any sporting event in the world. Logan has been to several Olympics, the World Series, the Super Bowl and the NCAA Final Four.
In 2000, Logan made one more attempt at sports notoriety. He wanted to be the first person in the world to catch a bass in the new century. "While everybody else was dressed up in a tux on New Year's Eve, I wanted to be out on my lake catching the first bass in 2000," Logan said. "My wife insisted on going. She didn't want me out on the water at night by myself. She brought a portable TV so she could keep up with the rest of the world." After just a few nibbles on the cold night, Logan gave up. "The next morning I got up early and went out again," Logan said. "It took about five minutes for me to catch a bass. Who knows? Maybe I was still the first to catch a bass in the new century."