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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Tragic Loss of Greg Halman

Tragedy struck yesterday when 24 year old Seattle Mariner outfielder Greg Halman passed away, the result of an apparent stabbing, in his home in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Not only has the baseball community lost an excellent young player, but his country has lost an ambassador and a good man.

Greg first came to the United States as a 17 year old in 2004 when he signed with the Seattle Mariners. His father Eddy had been a part of the Dutch national baseball team, and undoubtedly passed along a love of the game to his son. 

Coming to a new country at such a young age must be a very daunting experience, but Greg made it work somehow. When pursuing a dream, there are few barriers that cannot be overcome, and nothing would deter Greg from attaining his dream of playing in the major leagues. He started at the lowest levels of the minor leagues, but put in all the work and dedication needed to succeed.

Because of his age, Greg progressed slowly, at first, through the Mariners' minor league system. He blossomed during the 2007 season, hitting 20 home runs and stealing 31 bases, in becoming one of the top prospects in baseball. His power and speed potential made him one of the most dynamic young players in the game. He ended up hitting 20 or more home runs in four minor league seasons, which contributed to him making it to the majors.

On September 23, 2010, all the work from many years paid off as Greg made his major league debut with the Mariners. He played center field in all nine innings of a 1-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. His first major league hit, a double, came the following week against C.J. Wilson and the Texas Rangers.

Greg got to play a little bit more with the Mariners in 2011. He experienced some injuries, which held him back a bit, but had a stretch of over a month in June and July where he was a regular in the Seattle lineup. Fittingly, Greg's final major league hit was a home run, a 380 foot drive to left field in Toronto on July 19th, against Brett Cecil.

Having already fulfilled so many goals at such a young age, Greg constantly gave back, helping spread passion for baseball around The Netherlands. He was a member of the 2007 Dutch national team that won the European championship, and was also on the country’s roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic. In the off-season he played ball in his homeland, and conducted clinics to provide children with instruction and inspiration. Because of this work, his legacy will endure for years to come.

While Greg has passed at an age way too young, there is comfort in knowing that he was able to achieve his dream of playing professional baseball at the highest level, and impacted many people in his pursuit of that goal. Many people several times his age cannot claim to have had that kind of success in life, so while Greg only lived to 24, his life was one of purpose, fulfillment, and achievement- things that all people should strive for.


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