Josh Hamilton suffered an injury this season that cost him several weeks of playing time. That was supposed to be the worst thing that could happen for Hamilton and the Texas Rangers. Since then, they have struggled to get back on track and maintain the lead in the AL West.
But the most horrible kind of perspective was found Thursday (July 7) night after the Rangers’ MVP tossed a foul ball that a fan reached too far to get.
Firefighter Shannon Stone reached out for that foul ball in the second inning of the Rangers-Athletics game, yet Hamilton threw it just a little short. As such, Stone fell over the outfield railing, landing 20 feet below onto concrete. According to the Associated Press, he was conscious when he was put on an ambulance, but “went into full arrest” during the ride and died at a Fort Worth hospital.
It seems to have become quite unsafe to watch a baseball game this season. Stone’s death isn’t even the first of the year, as a Colorado Rockies fan died in another 20 feet fall on May 27. But in that case, the fan tried to slide down a staircase railing and landed on his head.
This incident is already more highly publicized, since the Rangers’ biggest star and the league’s reigning MVP is at the center. But the league’s most high profile fan incident was from the opening week of the year, when a San Francisco Giants fan was beaten into a coma in Los Angeles.
That ordeal was one of many incidents that tainted the Dodgers this year during the Frank McCourt mess. Yet that kind of blame won’t be passed around in this case, as the Rangers’ community rallies around Hamilton and the Stone family.
Stone had his tragic fall in front of his young son and allegedly was conscious enough to ask fans to check on him before he left. That seemed to indicate he would make it, but things went horribly wrong on the way to the hospital. Although the fall didn’t kill him by itself, it seems likely that it helped bring on the fatal “full arrest.”
This isn’t even the first time the Rangers have had a fan fall like this — the same thing happened almost a year ago to the day. In fact, a second firefighter fell 30 feet while trying to catch a foul ball July 6, 2010, but managed to survive. For some reason, a shorter fall turned out even worse this time.
Rangers president Nolan Ryan told the Press that Hamilton was “very distraught” over the news. He already knows that no injury or loss can overshadow the hardships of life off the field after his years of drug addiction. Yet the aftermath of a simple foul ball toss has become more haunting than he or anyone else could imagine.
Associated Press- “Texas Rangers fan dies, fell reaching for ball”