ARLINGTON, Texas – A baseball fan died Thursday night after falling over the railing in left field at Texas Rangers Ballpark.
The fan's name has not been released, but reports indicate he 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 tumbled headfirst over the railing. He fell approximately 20 feet onto the concrete below and was taken out of the stadium on a stretcher.
Eyewitness accounts said the man was conscious as he was being taken out of the stadium, but he was later pronounced dead at John Peter 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 Hargas told ESPNDallas.com that he had been seated next to the fan and struck up conversation with him earlier in the game. He said the man told him he was a firefighter, but did not give his name.
"I tried to grab him, but I couldn't," Hargis said. "I tried to slow him down a little bit. He went straight down."
The fan'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.