by Pim van Nes
They came from the United States West Coast and crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Europe in order to pay their respects to their teammate Gregory Halman, outfielder on the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers roster and Major League team Seattle Mariners. Departed from Los Angeles on Saturday morning they arrived on Sunday morning in Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands. Pitcher Dan Cortes (24 years of age), catcher Adam Moore (27), infielder Matt Mangini (25) and first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp (25) joined Seattle’s Club Vice President Bob Engle and Coordinator European Scouting Wayne Norton in Haarlem, the native town of Halman.
According to ceremony master Frits Mulder, close to 2000 people old and young came to present their condolences to Greg’s parents Eddy Halman, Hanny Suidgeest and to his sisters Naomi and Eva Halman during the wake on Sunday. After the ceremony also Minor League roommate Alex Liddi arrived from Pisa, Italy on Amsterdam airport. The first ever Italian player to have made it to Major League Baseball reached the family and his Mariners mates still at Pim Mulier stadium. Together they traveled to Hoofddorp, where Alex (23), third baseman often in Greg’s Minor League teams, saw the Dutch Mariner for the first time since the latter died on early Monday morning, November 21.
On Tuesday November 29, even more people (estimate 3000) attended the final farewell ceremony in Driehuis, a village just north of Haarlem. Several hundreds of them had to stay outside the aula, where the crowd listened to speeches by all kind of family and friends. Surrounded by Mariners players Liddi, Mangini, Moore and Cortes the microphone went to Mike Carp reviewing the years with Greg Halman in Minors and Majors. Dutch federation president Bob Bergkamp referred to Halman as a Netherlands club and national team player and mother Hanny Suidgeest unveiled what happened with her son Jason since he participated in MLB camp 2006. Greg’s best baseball friend in Rotterdam Jeffrey Arends (first base with Neptunus) inspired everybody to help Jason, alike Greg used to ask him every year. Greg’s brother Jason is still in custody in Rotterdam as suspect liable for the death of the Seattle Mariners outfielder.
The white coffin holding Greg Halman went on the strong shoulders of baseball players Carp and Cortes, Moore and Mangini, Liddi and Arends for his last walk. Up and down the dunes between Westerveld aula and his definite resting place. Mister-Baseball.com noticed among the thousands starting pitcher Rob Cordemans and catcher Sidney de Jong of Netherlands national team that clinched recently the Baseball World Championship, Washington Nationals outfielder Roger Bernadina who had accompanied Greg in the second European Big League Tour, Mariners scout in the Netherlands Peter van Daalen and former KNBSB president Theo Reitsma, accompanied by his former colleagues with national TV and radio system NOS, Mart Smeets and Andy Houtkamp. Despite of their age and/or prestige in the country, they waited outside more than two hours on a late November day till the coffin left the aula.
The first to appear with a reaction on internet was MLB.com writer Greg Johns, who quoted Mrs. Louise Molendijk telling about Greg Halman as an instructor for her son during recent European Big League Tour, attended by her son in Utrecht on November 12. The article is illustrated with a photo showing Mariner Halman fine-tuning the skills of his succeeding generation.