Loek Van Mil has been around the world playing baseball, but the majority of his professional career has come in the Twins organization. Always a fringey prospect, his biggest claim-to-fame has been his height — possibly until now. Lets get that height thing out of the way first. Van Mil stands at 7’1”, and is a trivia answer as the tallest player in professional baseball. He’s also Dutch, and pitched for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic back in 2016. If he was known for farting, I’d call him a giant Bert Blyleven.
Van Mil debuted with the GCL Twins as a 21 year old in 2006. He made it as high as Double-A in the Twins system, before moving on to play for the Los Angeles Angels, Cleveland, and Cincinnati Reds organizations; making it as high as Triple-A, but never getting a MLB cup of coffee. After rejoining the Twins system in Triple-A Rochester for 2015 and 2016, he has been playing exclusively in foreign leagues over the last couple seasons. This brings us to the recently concluded 2018 season for the Brisbane Bandits of the Australian Baseball League.
On December 8th, 2018, during a road trip to Canberra, Van Mil, the Bandit’s closer, took what should have been a short hiking trip on his own, away from his teammates. Van Mil, however, reportedly slipped on a rock, which caused him to hit his head on another rock, and knock himself unconcious, going missing in the wilderness for roughly 24 hours. Keep in mind — this is Australia, where basically everything wants to eat you, poison you, or is Luke Hughes.
He eventually regained consciousness, apparently brought around by the sound of “noisy kangaroos.” I’ve never thought about what sounds a kangaroo makes. Does it bark like a dog, or is more like a horse? Is it something entirely different? Apparently this is what a kangaroo sounds like. Anyway, after waking up to that particular horror, a bloody Van Mil managed to stumble into another hiker, and she was kind enough to get the battered giant to help.
While Van Mil was initially reported as being hospitalized in critical condition due to “serious head injuries in an accident unrelated to baseball,” the injuries were eventually detailed as “bleeding of the brain, 14 head fractures, a ruptured ear drum and four hemorrhages.” Or, in other words, one hell of a Traumatic Brain Injury. Suffering from that kind of injury, it could be considered miraculous that Van Mil was even alive, or able to walk or talk ever again. Fortunately, he healed well, and not only was surgery averted, but he was downgraded to stable condition within a couple days. Not only that, but he was able to be released from the hospital on December 16th, 2018 — less than a week after being admitted.
Van Mil returned to game action on January 17, 2018 with a scoreless relief inning, and in a total of four games after his accident, pitched 6.2 innings while only giving up a single run. The Bandits claimed their fourth consecutive ABL title on February 2nd.
Hat tip to Cut4 for bringing this story to my attention, and for adding some of the details that are otherwise unavailable on the free side of various paywalls.
Someone, please option this story for a movie already!