Rangers fan dies between game

I feel terrible for the man who died in the stands at Rangers Ballpark on Thursday night and even worse for his young son. But it’s impossible not to have equal sympathy for Josh Hamilton.
The foul ball that Hamilton threw into the stands is going to haunt the man for the rest of his life. How will he be able to sleep tonight or any other night in the near future knowing that if he just threw the ball a little farther, some boy’s father would still be alive?
The answer is that he probably won’t. And for this to happen to Hamilton of all ballplayers seems particularly sadistic. Hamilton (the 2010 AL MVP) nearly lost his career to drugs before it even got started, and he only put his life back together by putting himself into the Lord’s hands.
And Hamilton still has his demons. When it looked like he might slip back into drinking a couple of years ago, he swore off alcohol. The Rangers (maybe sensing his fragility) celebrated with ginger ale after winning the ALDS and the ALCS in 2010.
One can only hope that Hamilton is able to put the incident behind him in the coming months, and that he has the strength to withstand those substances that may offer temporary relief but leave him far worse off for the long run. Baseball certainly seems like a secondary concern at the moment, but the diamond is Hamilton’s safe haven and he’ll have the good fortune to be surrounded by teammates day in and day out.

Rangers fan dies between game
Josh Hamilton.

The closest I came to catching a baseball at a major league stadium was the year SkyDome opened. I was 9. Mauro ‘Goose’ Gozzo, a rookie pitcher for Toronto, was trolling around the outfield during batting practice when a man standing next to me shouted for him to throw him a ball for his son. Goose obliged and fired a strike. Emboldened, I asked Goose for a souvenir, too. His next throw didn’t quite reach the stands, even with my lean over the rail. My mom extracted me before Goose could try again.
There is something magical about a baseball, a 5,25-ounce orb made of rubber, cork, yarn and leather, that excites grown men as much as it does children. People catch balls while holding babies, sacrifice $10 beers in pursuit of them, fight and claw for their possession. Everyone in the stands who catches a ball thrusts it into the air. It’s a trophy. Sometimes the applause is polite. Other times the whole crowd cheers. The pursuit of a ball inside a stadium is noble.
It’s especially so when a father tries to fetch a ball for his child, like the man next to me at SkyDome did, and like a man at Rangers Ballpark did Thursday night. His name was Shannon Stone. He was a firefighter from Brownwood, nearly a three-hour drive from the stadium in Arlington. He wore a white T-shirt and a blue Texas Rangers hat. His young son wore a red T-shirt and a red Rangers hat. They sat in the left-field bleachers together.
In the second inning, Oakland A’s outfielder Conor Jackson hit a screaming foul ball down the left-field line. It caromed toward Josh Hamilton, the Rangers’ left fielder. Hamilton picked it up and threw the ball toward the stands. Players do this hundreds of times in a season. It’s part of baseball’s charm. Show up to a stadium, take home a piece of the game.

A fan died Thursday night from injuries suffered after falling from the left-field stands at Rangers Ballpark while trying to catch a ball thrown to him by Josh Hamilton.
The Texas Rangers declined to identify the victim. Brownwood City Manager Bobby Rountree (however) confirmed to the Brownwood News that the victim was Brownwood firefighter Shannon Stone. A fan sitting near the man said that the man was a Brownwood firefighter who was attending the game with his young son.
A news release from the Arlington Fire Department said that the fan went into full cardiac arrest en route to John Peter Smith Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 8:26 p.m. And he fell at 7:33 p.m.
“We had a very tragic accident tonight, and one of our fans lost his life reaching over the wall trying to catch a ball” – team president Nolan Ryan said. “As an organization and as team members and as a staff, we are very heavy-hearted about this, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.”
The accident occurred in the second inning. Oakland right fielder Conor Jackson hit a foul ball down the left-field line, and the ball ricocheted back onto the field of play.
Hamilton picked up the ball and threw it toward the fan, who leaned for the ball, slipped and went over the railing head first. The Rangers said that he fell some 20 feet from Section 5 into an opening between the stands and the out-of-town scoreboard.
The game was halted only momentarily, and Hamilton continued to look back toward the wall the rest of the inning. The fan was taken out of the ballpark on a backboard after an almost immediate response by emergency personnel.

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