Thursday, July 7, 2011

Believe It or Not, Bad Things Can Happen at Ballparks

Fans react after Shannon Stone's fall over the railing in left field
at Ranger Ballpark in Arlington. The little boy in
the red Ranger hat and red shirt is his son Cooper 
Ballparks are some of my most favorite places in the world. I love the crowd at a ballpark, the beautiful expanse of Lots of times, most of the time, when I watch the Rangers on TV, it's late at night or early in the morning. I record the games and watch later. So last night I watched the first game of a four-game series between Oakland and Texas, in The Ballpark at Arlington. And I was happy with the result. Very happy because the Rangers won in convincing fashion, 6-0, and the winning pitcher, a guy named Derrick Holland pitched the whole game, a four-hit shut out. And this game was his first after the worst start of his career, which I also saw. He couldn't get out of the first inning, couldn't find the plate, gave up walks and hits and five runs.

It wasn't until this morning when I picked up the USA Today that I discovered to my horror that during the game a fan named Shannon Stone, a fireman who was there with his six-year-old son, had been killed by a fall from the stands in left field. My God, what a tragedy! I think of all the times I drove with my boys down to Arlington to watch the Rangers. It was, and is, a father-son ritual for millions of dads. Stone had reached out for a ball tossed into the stands by Ranger left-fielder Josh Hamilton. The incident has been a searing experience for Hamilton, who normally does not toss balls into the stands. But he responded to Shannon Stone's request in the first inning when he saw him there with his son. So in the second when a foul ricocheted to Hamilton, he tossed it to Stone. It was a little short. The man caught the ball and flipped over the railing, falling to the concrete 20 feet below. Hamilton says he can still hear the little boy screaming for his dad. (See this article as well.)
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