On Monday morning, it was reported Seattle Mariners OF Greg Halman had been fatally stabbed and that his 22-year-old brother had been arrested as a suspect.
Halman died at the age of 24 in his native country of Holland.
We constantly hear news about people who pass away, and it numbs our emotional reaction to it. But this one hits close to home.
For the Mariners organization and fanbase—and for baseball as a whole—the news comes as a sudden tragedy in an otherwise quiet offseason. Halman represented Major League Baseball’s desire to grow the sport internationally, helping lead Holland’s national team to a European championship and cultivating the country’s interest in baseball. Holland upset Cuba in this year’s Baseball World Cup.
The young outfielder dedicated the last few weeks of his life to help coach baseball clinics on the MLB European Tour. As one of Holland's most famous baseball players, Halman was fast becoming an icon in his homeland.
At the age of 16, Halman joined the Mariners organization, working his way up through the minor leagues before making his MLB debut last summer. Halman started 2011 hot, batting above .350, and ended the year having played in 35 games for a .230 average, two home runs and six RBIs.
Halman was always described as an energetic, young player with an infectious personality, a player with a passion for the game and a youthful fascination with the world. He was well liked by everybody in the clubhouse, including veteran infielder Adam Kennedy, whom he called his “uncle."
"He'd say, 'You need to learn your native language,''' said former Mariners closer David Aardsma, a player of Dutch descent. "He was always trying to teach me. Just a word or two every day. ''
Said 710 ESPN Mariners insider Shannon Drayer of Greg Halman: “One of the first times I remember seeing him was in the clubhouse in spring training. He was doing the rookie thing—be seen but not heard. But there was something different with Greg. He had the wide-eyed, oh-isn't-it-great-to-be-here look that so many feel inside but fight to not to show. Wouldn't be cool. Not Greg. He was clearly thrilled to be where he was.”
Hearing personal accounts of Halman on the radio this afternoon, like Drayer’s encounter, brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. And this coming from a guy who has never cried watching a movie before!
Assessing from an organizational standpoint, Halman was a young prospect possessing speed, power and unparalleled athleticism with potential to blossom into a great outfielder. We saw flashes of it when he was called up and lit up opposing pitchers. It’s a shame his life ended so early with so much ahead of him on and off the baseball diamond.
Moving forward, the Mariners need to consider more than just replacing Halman as a player. Honoring his life with class is what they need to do, similar to how the Los Angeles Angels handled the death of 21-year-old pitcher Nick Adenhart.
It would be fitting for the Mariners to dedicate a makeshift memorial to Halman and wear a patch of his number on their jerseys this season.
And truly, the Mariners’ 2012 season should be dedicated to Greg Halman, an all-around good guy who went too soon.