To understand how Everett AquaSox star Greg Halman felt when he began the season in a horrible slump in Wisconsin, you have to understand...
EVERETT — To understand how Everett AquaSox star Greg Halman felt when he began the season in a horrible slump in Wisconsin, you have to understand how much baseball means to him.
Born in Haarlem, the Netherlands, he began playing baseball at age 3, learning from his father.
“He really put the love of the game into me,” Halman said. “For me it wasn’t just a sport, and from early on, I knew I wanted to make it [as a professional]. I did well in school, but for me it was only one thing, and that was baseball. I set baseball above school, above everything.”
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It was a strategy that had worked well for the 19-year-old outfielder, whose family comes from the Caribbean Islands of Aruba and Curacao.
Halman, who speaks English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento (a dialect spoken in the Dutch Antilles), signed with Seattle in June 2004 as a 16-year-old, choosing Seattle over several other suitors. Halman spent 2005 with Peoria in the Arizona League, then last year at short-season Class A Everett, where his season was derailed by a broken hand.
He had a good spring training this year, he said, and was expecting to start the season no lower than high Class A High Desert. Instead he was sent to low Class A Wisconsin, just one step above Everett.
“I had played in some big-league games in spring training and did very good,” he said. “I didn’t feel right going to Wisconsin. I thought I was better than that, and I didn’t think I should be there. To be honest, I was being arrogant.
“But in baseball, it just humbles you down, right then.”
Right then as in Wisconsin’s first game.
“I went 0 for 5, with four strikeouts, and then it just hit me,” Halman said. “I was like, ‘What is this?’ Then it just kept on going bad, and going bad, and I was going through it without making any adjustment.
“I went in there thinking I was too good to be there, and then I fell flat on my face.”
He hit .182 in 187 at-bats with Wisconsin before being demoted to Everett for the start of its season in mid-June. He now leads AquaSox regulars in batting average (.320), home runs (nine), runs batted in (24) and stolen bases (14).
He said his confidence is almost back, and easily talked about what he learned. A couple of months ago, he wasn’t talking to anyone.
“With baseball being the No. 1 thing in my life, and always being the best, then all of a sudden … I was broken down,” he said. “I couldn’t think no more. I couldn’t talk to my family, I couldn’t talk to my mom, I didn’t want to talk to nobody. It was a bad struggle and I couldn’t get myself out of it. I dug myself deeper and deeper.
“I thought, ‘Am I going to hit .150?’ If I would have stayed there, I probably would have hit .150 for the rest of the year. I was just in so deep, there was no possible way of getting myself out of it.”
But this is not a sad story. Halman is once again showing why he was so highly regarded — and he’s also a lot wiser for what he went through.
“I’m happy this happened when I was 19 years old and not when I’m up there in the bigs,” he said. “The biggest thing is, I am not taking it for granted, and I’m playing as hard as I can every day.”
Halman is showing at Everett that he is probably ready to begin moving forward again. Just don’t expect him to concern himself with that.
“I’m not thinking anymore where I should be,” he said. “I’ve done that. Because if I start thinking, ‘Oh, I should be there,’ I’m scared the same thing is going to happen. I’m just going to go day by day, and stay humble.”