11/21/11 1:50 PM EST
MLB shocked, saddened by Halman's death
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Halman, who was just 24 years old, was found stabbed to death Monday morning, setting off a chain of communication that raced around the world. Allan H. (Bud) Selig, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, issued an official statement that spoke to young Halman's importance to the game.
"Today Major League Baseball mourns the passing of Greg Halman, a member of the Seattle Mariners organization since 2004," said Selig as part of his statement. "Greg reached the Major Leagues in each of the last two seasons, hitting his first career home run on June 15th of this year. Greg proudly represented the Netherlands in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, and he was a participant in MLB International's grassroots clinics in Europe as recently as earlier this month.
"The loss of a talented 24-year-old young man like Greg -- amid such tragic circumstances -- is painful for all of us throughout the game. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest condolences to the entire Mariners organization and to all those whose lives were touched by Greg."
And on that score, there were many. Halman was an integral part of the recent Dutch baseball renaissance, and he worked long and hard to spread the game to a wider segment of the world. Halman, who was born in Haarlem and passed away in Rotterdam, was well renowned for participating in youth baseball clinics in his Dutch homeland and also across Europe.
Michael Weiner, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players' Association, spoke of what Halman's presence meant -- both the present and the future -- in an official statement.
"We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of Greg Halman," the statement said. "Greg was passionate about the game of baseball and generously gave of himself to share his passion with others in an attempt to help grow the sport's popularity across Europe. He will be sorely missed.
"Having played for the Netherlands in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and having participated in the recent 2011 European Big League Tour, Greg's lasting legacy is sure to be the trail he helped blaze for European youth to follow. ... Our thoughts and prayers go out to Greg's family, his teammates, the Mariners organization and his many friends and fans throughout Europe and America."
Halman, who signed with the Mariners in 2004, was steadily building an impressive on-field resume. The fleet-footed outfielder had a breakout season in 2008, when he led all Seattle prospects in home runs and was named the organization's Minor League Player of the Year.
Halman later made his big league debut in 2010 and got a longer audition this season, performing for the only organization he'd ever known. On Monday, the Mariners -- led by chairman Howard Lincoln, president Chuck Armstrong and general manager Jack Zduriencik -- issued a statement, remembering Halman for the person he was and the player he could've been.
"The Mariners family is deeply saddened by the tragic death of Greg Halman," the statement said. "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."
Halman, whose father, Eddy, also played baseball in Holland's highest professional league, struck his former employers as intelligent, urbane and ambitious. Former manager Don Wakamatsu said that losing a player this young was an incomprehensible tragedy to everybody involved.
"Greg was a very intelligent guy. He spoke several different languages," said Wakamatsu, Seattle's manager in 2009 and at the outset of 2010. "Reports we had were that he had a chance to be a superstar, and I loved the kid. I knew he was a guy that was going to get it. He had all the tools to be a great player. He was just raw, but he had the work ethic and the desire and all the tools. He was one of those guys that if he had the at-bats and playing time, he had a chance to be a great player.
"Greg had just a great, bubbly personality. You get into coaching, you want to make an impact not only on a baseball career but a life in general. And then you open up the paper and read something like this, and it just rips your heart out. It's like losing one of your own children."
Halman's former Mariners teammate Chris Woodward weighed in on an MLBlog that was set up so that fans, family and friends can share their condolences and memories.
"I had the extreme pleasure of playing with Greg for the 2010 season," wrote Woodward. "He was an extraordinary talent who seemed to fear nothing. He had a zest for life that clearly affected everyone he came in contact with. He was a natural leader who was destined for great things in baseball and beyond!
"My teammates and I likened him to a superhero," continued Woodward, "and of all the players I have played with in 17 years I would say he most represented somebody who was invincible! My heart sank when I read the news this morning, truly a sad sad day to lose such a good soul. My heart goes out to his family as they lost two sons, so tragic!!!!
Several players from around the league weighed in on Twitter, giving their unvarnished reaction of a life taken way too soon. Ricky Romero, Andrew Bailey and former teammate Ryan Rowland-Smith were just a few of the players who said something in honor of Halman's memory.
"Wow just woke up to some terrible news," said Romero. "Sad to hear about the death of Mariner OF Greg Halman. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family."
"Saddened to hear the news about the Mariners Greg Halman," added Bailey on his personal account. "He was such a great talent. My prayers are with him and his loved ones today."
"Just heard the shocking news about Halman," wrote Rowland-Smith, who played with Halman on the 2010 Mariners. "So sad, can't imagine what his family is feeling! RIP Greg."
Miami outfielder Mike Stanton -- who had accompanied Halman on the European Big League Tour this offseason -- used his Twitter platform to pay respects to his fallen friend.
"I'm shocked and saddened to hear about Greg Halman," said Stanton, who turned 22 less than two weeks ago. "I was JUST with him. Very tragic situation. Make sure you pray for his family."
Another powerful remembrance came from Toronto catcher J.P. Arencibia, who first met Halman as a participant at the Rising Stars Game in the Arizona Fall League. Arencibia can recall first watching Halman taking batting practice and being captivated by his natural power stroke.
"I know him from everything. We played against each other in the Fall League, in Triple-A, in the big leagues," said Arencibia. "He's a guy I've always admired. We used to talk hitting. He was an awesome guy. It kills me. You wish you had said all the things you wanted to say, and now he's no longer with us. ... He was always in a good mood. He was a guy you could go up to and talk to."
Another touching testimonial came from Nate Adock, who played with Halman while stationed at Class A Wisconsin in 2007. Adcock, who was taken by the Royals in the Rule 5 Draft last winter, recalled Halman as a hard worker and as a player with more than his share of natural gifts.
"He was a very hard-nosed baseball player, had all the talent in the world," Adcock said. "He could do a lot of things on the ballfield. He could run, he could throw, he could hit. It's just sad to see such a good ballplayer have such a tragic death. All of us baseball players are like a family, and to have anyone pass away in any circumstance is really sad to hear."