Baseball is reeling this morning about Shannon Stone, the Texas Rangers fan who died last night from injuries sustained during a 20-foot fall from the left field stands at Rangers Ballpark at Arlington. The 39-year-old firefighter was reaching for a foul ball Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton was trying to flip to Stone's son, who was at his father's side and witnessed the fall, according to the Arlington Star-Telegram.
Play was briefly stopped following the fall, which happened in the second inning. Stone was pronounced dead after going into cardiac arrest about an hour after falling. After the game, Rangers team president Nolan Ryan said Hamilton was "very distraught" over the incident and gave a statement to reporters:
"We had a very tragic accident tonight and one of our fans lost their life reaching over the rail trying to get a ball. As an organization, and as our team members and our staff, we’re very heavy-hearted about this, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family."
Pro Baseball Talk blogger Craig Calcaterra says it might be time for the Rangers to rethink the safety barricades "Last year another fan fell at a Rangers game, suffering serious though non-fatal injuries," writes Calcaterra. "During the stadium's first game in 1994, another fan fell, also suffering serious injuries. It's premature for anyone to talk about whether there are any fundamental issues with that ballpark or if these accidents were merely coincidental." Ryan punted last night when a reporter asked him if the team would raise railing levels at the ballpark, saying he was "not prepared" to discuss changes to the security precautions.
In May, a Colorado Rockies fan died after a fall at Coors Field, but the Associated Press points out that in that incident, witnesses "told police that the man had been trying to slide down a staircase railing."