ARLINGTON, Texas – A male baseball fan died Thursday night after falling over the railing in left field at Texas Rangers Ballpark.
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office said Friday the victim was 39-year-old Shannon Stone of Brownwood. City Manager Bobby Rountree says Stone had been a firefighter for nearly 18 years in Brownwood, located 150 miles southwest of Arlington.
Replays show that Stone was seated with his young son just over the scoreboard in the lower section of left field. When a foul ball rolled into the field of play, he asked for Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton to toss him the ball.
Hamilton did so, and as the man leaned over to catch it he lost his balance and tumbled headfirst over the railing. He fell approximately 20 feet onto the concrete below and was taken out of the stadium on a stretcher.
The fall occurred near the visitors' bullpen, inhabited by the Oakland Athletics Thursday. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, A's relievers Brad Ziegler, Craig Breslow and Joey Devine said they saw the man was conscious as he was being taken out of the stadium. Ziegler was seen crying in the clubhouse after being told the news of Stone's death.
"They had him on a stretcher and were carrying him out," Ziegler said. "He was saying stuff like, 'Please check on my son.' And people were telling him, 'We'll check on your son, sir.' I think he had his arm splinted from falling, but was conscious and moving. To come in and find out about this is just tough."
The fall occurred at approximately 7:30 p.m., and Stone was pronounced dead at 8:26 p.m. at John Peter Smith Hospital. A release from the Arlington Fire Department said Stone suffered complete cardiac arrest on the way from the stadium to the hospital.
"We are deeply saddened to learn that the man who fell has passed away as a result of this tragic accident," Rangers president Nolan Ryan said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Rangers manager Ron Washington said after the game that Hamilton would need to deal with the tragedy in his own way and that he may offer Hamilton a day off Friday to come to terms with what happened.
"I think as any of us would, Josh is very distraught over this as the entire team is," Ryan said.
Ronnie Hargis told ESPNDallas.com that he had been seated next to Stone and struck up conversation with him earlier in the game.
"I tried to grab him, but I couldn't," Hargis said. "I tried to slow him down a little bit. He went straight down."
Stone's death occurred almost one year to the day after another firefighter, Tyler Morris, fell 30 feet from the club deck into the lower level. He was rushed to the hospital and suffered a fractured skull and sprained ankle, but recovered fully.
In 1994, Hollye Minter fell from a railing in right field of the same stadium and broke her arm, two ribs and bones in her neck. After Minter's fall, the stadium raised its railings from 30.5 inches to 46 inches.