Greg Halman's death reminds of other major-leaguers killed
The killing of an active major-leaguer is rare but not unprecedented. Former Mariners announcer Ron Fairly was a teammate of Angels outfielder Lyman Bostock. And young Seattle pitcher Miguel Fuentes was killed months after throwing the Pilots' final pitch.
Seattle Times staff reporter
On the day after, it didn't get any easier for Mariners personnel still grieving over the death of Greg Halman, and grappling to figure out what could possibly have prompted his fatal stabbing.
"Our hearts are broken," Seattle executive Pedro Grifol, who has known Halman since he came over from the Netherlands at age 16, said Tuesday from Venezuela. "We all, as a staff, got to the point we loved this kid. It's very tough to swallow."
It's a feeling of shock, helplessness and anguish that, blessedly, not many teams have had to experience. And the list is reduced even further when the death of an active player is from the hands of another, as appears to be the case with Halman. His brother, Jason, is being interviewed as a suspect but hasn't been charged.
Yet it is not unprecedented, as Ron Fairly well knows. The longtime Mariners announcer was a member of the California Angels when his teammate, star outfielder Lyman Bostock, was murdered on Sept. 23, 1978 after their game against the White Sox.
In fact, the 39-year-old Fairly had the final at-bat of his 21-year career in that game. So, shockingly, did the 27-year-old Bostock, a .311 career hitter who was regarded as a future batting champion. Visiting relatives in nearby Gary, Ind., that evening, Bostock was gunned down in the back seat of his uncle's car by a man who reportedly was aiming for his estranged wife, a passenger in the car. Bostock was pronounced dead less than three hours later.
Fairly recalled, "The ballclub was stunned. I think the attitude — my attitude — was 'Why?' What a waste. Over what? It was an absolute mind-boggler. Lyman was such a good guy. Really a good person. My locker was next to his."
The Mariners have nearly three months to absorb the loss of Halman before spring training opens. The Angels, meanwhile, had a game the next day in Chicago on Sept. 24, 1978.
"We talked about not playing," Fairly recalled. "Should we, out of respect for Lyman? Someone said, 'Would Lyman want us to do that, or go out and play?' We said, 'You know what, he probably would have wanted us to go out and play.' That was it. We played. It wasn't fun. Afterward, as I recall, was probably as silent as any clubhouse I've ever been in."
Flash forward more than 30 years, and the mood of a different Angels team was similarly somber after pitcher Nick Adenhart's death on April 9, 2009. Adenhart, 22, was killed, along with two others, by a drunken driver just a few hours after Adenhart had thrown six scoreless innings against the A's.
The driver, Andrew Gallo, was convicted on three counts of second-degree murder, among other charges of which he was found guilty, and sentenced to 51 years to life in jail.
Adenhart was a passenger in a Mitsubishi Eclipse broadsided by a minivan driven by Gallo, who had a prior DUI conviction and blood-alcohol content of .19 percent two hours after the crash.
"It is a tragedy that will never be forgotten," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said at an Angel Stadium news conference.
Like Halman, Dernell Stenson was a young (25) outfielder trying to forge a major-league career when he was murdered in Chandler, Ariz., on Nov. 5, 2003. During the 2003 season, Stenson had finally made it to the big leagues with Cincinnati after nine minor-league seasons. In 37 games with the Reds, he hit .247 with three home runs and 13 runs batted in.
After the season, Stenson reported to the Arizona Fall League, where he was playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions and hitting .394, third-best in the league, at the time of his death.
The circumstances of Stenson's killing were mysterious. According to Wikipedia and other news reports, he was bound, shot in the head and chest, then run over with his own SUV. It was first investigated as a carjacking, but robbery was later regarded as the motive. Four men were eventually arrested. Two were charged with six felonies, including first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed robbery. Both eventually received life in prison.
"We're all still in a state of shock that a class act and quality person like Dernell Stenson is no longer with us," Tim Naehring, the Reds' director of player development, told The Cincinnati Enquirer the next day.
Another untimely death with a Seattle connection occurred on Jan. 29, 1970, when pitcher Miguel Fuentes, 23, was shot dead outside a bar in his hometown in Loiza Aldea, Puerto Rico. The previous year he had appeared in eight games for the Seattle Pilots, and in fact threw the last pitch in the history of the Pilots, who moved to Milwaukee after their lone season.
According to Pilots teammate Dick Baney in a 2006 Seattle Times article, Fuentes had gone outside to relieve himself because there was a plumbing problem in the bathroom. Someone who thought Fuentes was too close to his car shot him.
Baney, who was not present at the incident, said of Fuentes, "Nicest kid you'll ever meet."
Fuentes would have turned 65 on May 10. Like all these lives snuffed out too soon, we'll never know what he could have accomplished.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or email@example.com
The Morning Memo
The Morning Memo jump starts your day with weather, traffic and news
Career Center Blog
Your Opinion Matters
Take our survey and enter to win $100. Enter Now!