PEORIA, Ariz. – For Mike Carp and Carlos Peguero, Greg Halman was a brother.
Carp used the word in English. Fellow Seattle Mariners outfielder Peguero offered its Spanish counterpart, “hermano.”
It was a fitting tribute to Halman, who spoke four languages and was a popular clubhouse figure before he was stabbed to death last November while in his native Netherlands for a series of clinics throughout Europe.
The death of the Mariners prospect stunned former teammates and coaches at both the minor and major league levels. Carp is remembering Halman this spring with a T-shirt that he gave to each of his teammates that reads “Brother for life” in Dutch on the front.
“He fit in with everybody,” Carp said. “He was really a big part of my life. I only knew him for about 2 1/2 years, but he definitely made an impact.
“I’m going to carry him with me for the rest of my life, that’s just the way it’s going to be.”
Halman was a top outfield prospect in the Mariners’ organization. He made his major league debut in 2010 and played in 35 games last season. He was hoping to earn a spot on Seattle’s 25-man roster this spring.
Halman, a physical specimen at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, was more than just a player, teammates said. He happily served as a cross-cultural bridge between Latino teammates from the Caribbean region who spoke little English, and American players whose Spanish was limited.
“He was a tremendous person,” Peguero said. “Like a brother, because he talked to me like a brother. Told me to keep on pushing and told me things just as how they are. That’s the kind of person you can appreciate. The things he said about life. I can’t point to all of those things, but he was always great to me.”
Carp and Halman were teammates at Triple-A Tacoma in 2010 and part of 2011 before reuniting with the Mariners, also last year. Carp wanted to posthumously honor his ex-teammate, and the orange T-shirts he had made also include Halman’s No. 56 in black with a Jackie Robinson quote: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
Halman played for the Netherlands in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. The team’s primary colors were orange and black.
Carp was so close to Halman that he got the same tattoo Halman had, a rendering of half the earth showing North America and Europe under baseball seams with the words “My World” on his left bicep. Carp added stars over Seattle and the Netherlands to his version.
Carp had the shirts handed out to all teammates and staff at spring training, even if some folks were new to the team or weren’t familiar with Halman.
“I wanted him to be here with us; he would have loved to be here,” Carp said. “Hopefully, these guys appreciate the experience, take care of him and read the message on (the shirt). Life is not promised to you.”
Peguero said he and his teammates still can’t believe Halman is gone.
“It’s like a shock you couldn’t be ready for,” Peguero said. “Time will pass, but we’ll always remember him because he’ll always be in our memory as a fine person and good baseball player.”
Carp and his associates are trying to get the Mariners to sell the shirts at official team shops in Washington, and perhaps at spring training. He’d like the proceeds to go to charity or to Halman’s family.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he’s fine with the gesture.
“Grieving is a personal thing, and when you talk about a team setting it’s of course a little bit different,” Wedge said. “Some guys out there (on the team) never met the man, other guys were really good friends with him. I let them handle that as they see appropriate.”