Loek van Mil, the 7-foot-1 Dutch pitcher who spent a decade in the minor leagues, died on Sunday at age 34. The Royal Dutch Baseball and Softball Association KNBSB announced Monday morning that van Mil died from a “fatal accident,” but would not release any additional details about his death at the request of his family.
The pro career of van Mil, a righty, started with the Minnesota Twins in 2006, and he made it up to Double-A in 2010. He was traded to the Los Angeles Angels in 2010, and spent time with the Cleveland Indians in 2012 and the Cincinnati Reds in 2013.
Van Mil spent a year with Japan’s Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2014, and in 2015 played for Curaçao Neptunus Rotterdam, a team in the Dutch Honkbal Hoofdklasse — the highest level of pro baseball in the Netherlands. He got one more try in American baseball, signing with the Twins in August 2015, but was released from the Twins’ Triple-A team the following April. Van Mil spent the next two years pitching in Australia’s pro baseball league, and also spent time pitching for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic in 2013 and 2017.
At over 7 feet tall, van Mil is the tallest man to have ever played professional baseball, tied with former Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Ryan Doherty.
Van Mil was in a serious hiking accident Canberra, Australia in December 2018. He was left unconscious in nature for 24 hours after hitting his head on rocks. He was admitted to the hospital and received treatment for multiple fractures, hemorrhages, and bleeding of the brain.
Van Mil announced his retirement from baseball just a week ago as he continued to recover from the head injury he sustained in the hiking accident.