Remembering Greg Halman

Words cannot describe how shocked we all are by the death of Greg Halman.

Greg was a popular guy in the Rainiers front office, for both those that knew and worked with him in team-related events, and others who simply enjoyed watching him play.

We know he was popular with Rainiers fans, too.

A blur of memories…

Rainiers manager Daren Brown was completely stunned when he heard the news today. Brown managed Halman in Tacoma the last two years, and he was also the Mariners interim manager when Halman made his MLB debut and collected his first major league hit last September.

Brown said that, as a coach in the M’s organization, you watch these kids grow up. Halman signed at age 17 and spent the last seven years developing and maturing in the Mariners system.

Daren pointed out that Halman’s minor league teammates are going to have a particularly tough time coping with this. Guys like Mike Wilson, Mike Carp, Matt Mangini and Matt Tuiasosopo spent years as Halman’s teammate and developed close relationships with him.

Mike Wilson and Greg Halman in 2010.

For many of us in Tacoma – perhaps including you – our first experience with Greg came at the 2010 pre-season “meet the team” event at the Hotel Murano. Halman was just 22 at the time, about to make his Triple-A debut.

Halman showed up at the dinner decked out in a blazing cream-colored suit, with accompanying jewelry, causing Ryan Divish to immediately label it a “Miami Vice” suit. 

A snappy suit was always a Halman hallmark on Rainiers team flights.

As you know, Halman was Dutch. He grew up in Europe and played on various Dutch all-star teams before the Mariners signed him, and he continued to play when the Dutch National Team congregated for events like the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

The Netherlands just won the gold in the Baseball World Cup, but Halman was ineligible to play because he was on a major league 40-man roster.

Halman was a big supporter of European baseball. Since he wasn’t able to play in the World Cup, he instead joined fellow Dutch major leaguer Rick VandenHurk organizing a tour of Europe to put on baseball clinics.

Among the players to join Halman and VandenHurk were Adam Jones and Prince Fielder. The program just ended about ten days ago.    

Halman spoke four languages. He grew up speaking Dutch, learned English in school, and picked up Spanish via baseball. He also learned the island language of the Netherland Antilles, Papiamento, although he was quick to admit that he wasn’t real fluent in it.

Around baseball – where Halman spent the last seven years of his life – he spoke English and Spanish.

I remember vividly when VandenHurk and the New Orleans Zephyrs visited Tacoma during the 2010 season. Hours before the game, VandenHurk and Halman had a long, long conversation in front of the Tacoma dugout.

We’re talking about a good 25-to-30 minute conversation, on the field, about four hours before the game. This is unusual.

I asked Halman about it, and he said that it just felt so great to actually be able to speak Dutch with somebody. It made him homesick.

Halman’s favorite English words were the ones he didn’t learn in school. Despite a lack of formal scholastic training, he was able to use these words in very creative and colorful ways, often with a big smile on his face.

Sadly, this renders many of the funniest Halman stories un-bloggable.

Baseball.

Halman had no trouble turning off the colorful language when the situation called for it.

Greg made a good number of community appearances on behalf of the Rainiers and Mariners. In particular he made multiple visits to the Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.

The Tacoma Rainiers Facebook page has a picture of Halman visiting with a young fan in the dugout. 

Lots of Mariners media members and players are tweeting about how Halman always greeted them so warmly, with a big grin.

That goes for me, too. In particular, he and Carp were the first players to greet me in the clubhouse when I made my Mariners radio debut on June 30. It was before the game and I was nervous, and spending five minutes talking to those guys really helped.

Everybody loves winning, and Greg Halman was no exception. You know what Halman enjoyed most about winning?

Winning meant that he was allowed – encouraged, in fact – to dump containers of liquid on people’s heads.

When it comes to championship celebrations, nobody was more excited to give you a beer or champagne shower than Greg Halman.

Just ask the Rainiers team doctor, Dr. Popich.

Just what the Doctor ordered.

Halman made sure that Rainiers Director of Baseball Operations Ashley Roth properly celebrated her first PCL title.

Michael Pineda goes with the two-hand pour as Halman orchestrates.

Top Five Tacoma Single-Season Home Run Totals

Garrett, Adrian  1971    43
Walton, Danny  1974    35
Rohrmeier, Dan 1997    33
Halman, Greg 2010    33
Moore, Kelvin 1981    31

The news story is sad, and as details emerge it’s probably only going to get sadder. Instead of trying to understand something that is not understandable, many are sharing their own stories.

We’ll miss you, Greg.

8 Responses to Remembering Greg Halman

  1. @THEKID_ says:

    Well written Mike.

    Got to see Greg play for a short time when he was a Timber Rattler in ’07 before being sent back down and the skipping Wisconsin for High Desert in ’08.

    Such a tragedy.

  2. michael says:

    i have to agree with the kid as it was well written mike..

    Thought this yr & last yr when I would go to Tacoma Rainers game & get the players autograph all of them are nice guys, as they take the time to signed for the fans, thought greg halman is nice guy and will be missed. I was looking foward to spring training 2012 when he will be competing for roster spot on Seattle Mariners roster.. I cannot put my mind around how a family member could possible did what he did..

  3. rainierfan says:

    I was at the meet and greet you were talking about at the Hotel Murano. That suit was totally Miami vice. Greg was sporting the long hair at the time also. Greg was always very approachable for the fans and he treated us great. Greg will truly be missed by all Tacoma Season ticket holders.

  4. [...] Mike Curto: Remembering Greg Halman [...]

  5. Jenny van Dijk says:

    Midden in ‘t leven
    nog zoveel te geven
    Idee en plannen te over
    in één keer voorbij
    Voor ons was je een kei
    enig in je soort
    We zetten ons leven
    in jouw gedachten voor

  6. jeffrey deen says:

    R.I.P G

  7. stan says:

    Very sad news. So young, so much of life left to live, then it’s over in an act of absolute madness. I remember the shock I had when I first heard of Lyman Bostock’s death. I’m much older now, but the added years haven’t made it any easier to comprehend why something like this happens. RIP

  8. riley says:

    I remember when I 1st watched him play in Tacoma, getting his autograph, he was one of my favorite players before he was out of Single A. I was so exited to watch him at Safeco. When I herd h died, I nearly broke out in tears. The player I had watched, followed, looked up to and knowing he was going to be the next Ryan Braun or Jacoby Ellsbury. The world just lost a really great guy.

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