In the first place, I would like to let you know that we are very moved and touched by the fact that you will pay tribute to Gregory tonight. I am very glad that I got the opportunity to write this letter to you all on this very special occasion.
We would like to start by letting you know that Gregory had 2 fantastic seasons in Everett. He always loved playing for the Everett AquaSox. Gregory loved everything about Everett. The community, the fans, the organization, the stadium, the team and last but not least his host family. Gregory stayed for two years with the Chapman-family. We would like to thank Jim and Kathy Chapman and their family for having Gregory in their home and treating him like he was a son to them.
Gregory shared so many memories about Everett with us. We have many pictures of Gregory with his teammates on and off the field. Some of his teammates he played with 5, 6 years ago, still were on his team in Tacoma with the Rainiers and in Seattle with the Mariners last year. Some other players he played with in his early years became his dearest friends he still had very close contact with.
I remember the games I saw, during the 2006 season. It was a week in July and the third night I watched a game. That night the AquaSox played against Boise and Gregory broke his hand during a bench clearing brawl. That was his last game of the 2006 season. I was glad that I could be with him when he first went to a specialized hand clinic and the hospital. We also went to see a game of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. This was the first time he saw the Mariners play in their stadium. I am sure he then dreamt of playing there himself one day. I am very grateful that - beside this sad experience of his injury - I had the chance to share everything he went through during my stay in Everett. I could see how much the people loved him there and how much he loved them.
Tonight The AquaSox will retire Gregory's Number, #26. He had that number since he was a small kid in The Netherlands. The worst thing in life that can happen in a loving family happened to us last year November. We lost our beloved son, brother and friend.. And Gregory had many friends. Up till now we don't realize what happened and we still cannot believe it did actually happen. We still cannot face reality and accept that we will never see Gregory again. We will never see, hear or feel him around anymore. We will never again hear his laughter and his jokes or see his wonderful smile. Gregory was a sweet, beautiful and unique person to us and everybody else. We, his family, and so many people all around the world are missing Gregory and don't know how to deal with this loss. We try to get on and Gregory will always be there in our hearts and in our loving memory.
We think it is a big honour that you retire Gregory's number and that you keep his number on the outfield wall forever. He deserves it. We hope Gregory can see us from somewhere and realize what you did for him. Furthermore, we would like to know that we are very proud of everything Gregory achieved as a ballplayer. Playing in the major league made his dream come through. His period in Everett played an important role in his career.
On behalf of Gregory's father, his brother and his sisters I would like to thank you all so much for paying this tribute. We really appreciate this gesture and we will think about it forever. Soon, we will, for sure, come to Everett to see the stadium and Gregory's presence. We hope you all have a beautiful night and we are right there with you. We wish the AquaSox and the entire Mariners organisation all the best for the future.
May God bless you all.
With much love from Haarlem, The Netherlands
Hanny Suidgeest, Gregory Halman's mother