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My boss sent me a text at 7:58am this
morning. It's rarely a good thing when the boss sends you a text before
"Greg Halman killed!? His brother is the
After a moment of disbelief, I had a lot of
memories rush back. Then, I went to the internet for the story. This
Netherlands report had the early details:
baseball player Gregory Halman, 24, was stabbed to death in Rotterdam on Monday
Police have arrested his younger brother Jason
as a suspect in the stabbing, which was reportedly prompted by an argument over
Gregory Halman began his professional career
in 2005, playing with the rookie-league Arizona League Mariners. He was called
up by the Seattle Mariners in September 2010.
Halman was a member of the Dutch national team
when it won the European Championships in 2007 and reached the semi-finals of
the World Championships that same year. He did not play for the Dutch national
team that won this year's World Championships in Panama.
In the past few weeks Gregory Halman had been
traveling across Europe in connection with the European Big League Tour. He was
teaching clinics for young talent along with other Dutch players like Rick van
Geoff Baker, the Seattle Mariners beat writer for
The Seattle Times, has been updating
this blog post throughout Monday morning. He has reaction from players
and Mariners personnel.
Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley went
to big league camp with Halman for the first time in 2010 and they teamed
together in AAA that year. Halman was called up to the team later that summer,
then arrived again in May of this year followed by Ackley's debut a month later.
"He was the most athletic guy on the
team,'' Ackley said. "I mean, he could just hit the ball a mile in batting
practice and get to balls hit all over.''
Ackley said he and Halman talked plenty in
2010 about what making it to the big leagues would be like. He'd also ask Halman
about life in The Netherlands.
"I've never been, so I'd ask him about
the life there, what the weather and the people were like,'' Ackley said.
"He loved it and that's why he'd always go back there to live.''
Mariners manager Eric Wedge put out a written
statement at 9:30 a.m. PT, stating: "I only knew Greg for a brief time,
but I feel lucky that I had the chance to get to know him. He was a fine young
man with a bright future. Greg had a tremendous energy about him, both on and
off the field, that I loved. This is just tragic. That's all I can think, that
this is so tragic and sad."
The Mariners issued a joint statement from
president Chuck Armstrong, CEO Howard Lincoln and
GM Jack Zduriencik just after 9 a.m. PT: "The Mariners
family is deeply saddened by the tragic death of Greg Halman. Greg was a part of
our organization since he was 16 and we saw him grow into a passionate young man
and talented baseball player. He had an infectious smile that would greet you in
the clubhouse, and he was a tremendous teammate. Our thoughts and prayers go out
to Greg's family."
There was also this from Vladimir Chulp, a youth
coach in the Czech republic:
"He was surprised about the level of
skill of the young players here and said it was amazing to see that many kids on
such a level,'' Chulp said. "He was even more surprised to see girls
playing too. He did not believe that baseball was known so much outside of
"He told me that stepping up to the plate
at Skydome for the first time was something [unbelievable], more than goose
bumps. He believed he had a chance with the big team next year. He was out of
options so he knew that something would have to be done.''
stepped up to the plate at Time Warner Cable for the first time on Opening
Night, 2007. To remind you about Opening Night, 2007. The Timber
Rattlers played the Peoria Chiefs in Ryne Sandberg's first game as a
manager. It was 33 degrees at game time with a 22mph wind blowing in from
left field. Had it not been opening night, there was no way that game
would have been played. But, this is Wisconsin! PLAY BALL.
Halman was the starting centerfielder and was in
the third spot in the batting order. He went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts
that night, but did knock in a run with a sacrifice fly. The weather did
not cooperate and Halman struggled early in the season as he went hitless in his
first 15 at bats and struck out 12 times.
Then, his first hit gave a clue to why Baseball America had rated him as
the #25 prospect in the Mariners going into that season. It was his second
at bat of a game at Cedar Rapids on April 14. He cracked a single two
drive in a pair of runs, stole second, and went to third on a throwing
error. Then, he scored on a grounder to first.
That started Halman on a hot streak. He would get at least one hit in 15
of his next 17 games, including a nine game hitting streak to raise his average
to .263. The last game of the nine game hit streak was maybe his best game
as a Timber Rattler.
It was April 29 and 76 degrees for a home game against the Fort Wayne
Wizards. He hit a three-run home run over the brand new Miller High Life
Home Run Porch in right. It was an impressive opposite field home run by a
19-year old kid. You could see why he was the MVP of a Dutch professional
league as a 17 year old. You could see why Baseball America wrote: He
has projectable frame and present strength, and Seattle envisions him hitting
for power and average once he matures physically, gains more experience and
tightens his strike zone.
That game was the high point in his Rattlers
At times his temper and his intensity would get
to him. There was a game in South Bend on May 5, 2007. The Rattlers
were up 3-1 in the top of the ninth inning. He was up with a runner at
third with one out. The runner from third tried to score on a wild pitch,
but was out. The pitcher - Ramon Sanchez - hit Halman on a 3-0
pitch. Greg did not take it well. Then, Carlos Triunfel, who I
remember as one of Halman's closer friends on the team, was hit by
Sanchez. Halman and Sanchez began yelling at each other - Halman was
standing on second base at the time - and the benches cleared, but order was
restored after Sanchez was ejected from the game.
After that game in South Bend, Greg went into a horrible 1-for-31 slump.
But, he was there every day working before games.
Halman was one of those guys who could make the
bat hitting the ball make THAT sound. You know THAT sound. THAT
sound can be so pure. THAT sound lasts for less than a second, but THAT
sound drowns out everything else going on in the stadium. THAT sound makes
every head whip around to try and follow the ball as it becomes a speck of white
against a cloudless blue sky.
The Mariners sent him back down to extended
spring training in Arizona a game on June 10. This would get him ready for
the season in Everett.
From there, he took off. Back in the Northwest League, Halman hit 16
homers in 62 games over the remainder of 2007. In 2008, he hit 29 homers
and drove in 83 runs between High Desert and West Tennessee. In 2009, he
hit 25 homers in Tacoma. Then, a 33 homer season for Tacoma in 2010 and a
major league call up to make his debut on September 23, 2010. That was
just about a month after his 23rd birthday.
He did not break camp with the Mariners in 2011,
but he was ready when called. On June 5 against Tampa Bay, he made
this catch to keep the game tied. Then, he hit this two-run
triple to give the M's the lead. That hit was his third of the day and
- most importantly - was hit to right-center. As Dave Sims said,
"Good for Greg Halman!"
We in Appleton knew Greg for a very short
time. Unfortunately, everyone will only know Greg for a tragically short
24 years. But, this is not the end.
Here is a comment from coach Chulp in that Geoff Baker piece quoted and linked
earlier in the story. It's about Halman being part of the contingent of
major league players on a tour of Europe that included a stop in the Czech
Republic: Chulp said Halman was surprised that so many fans in the Czech
Republic seemed to know who he was. Other than Fielder, Chulp said, Halman got
the loudest reception of any player introduced to the crowds.
In ten or twelve years, when some kid from the
Czech Republic makes his Major League debut don't be surprised if that kid tells
a story about how meeting Greg Halman during the 2011 European Big League Tour
inspired him to chase his major league dream.
That story will be a really sweet sound and that is how I'll remember Greg
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.