Texas Rangers Announce Ballpark Modifications After Tragic Accident

Rangers fan Shannon Stone, a firefighter from Texas, died Thursday night after falling over a stadium railing at the Ballpark in Arlington.

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In Wake Of Shannon Stone's Death, Rangers Announce Changes In Stadium Railings

On July 7, Rangers fan Shannon Stone fell over a railing at Rangers Ballpark trying to catch a ball lobbed by Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton; Stone died after hitting his head on the concrete below.

Tuesday afternoon, the Rangers announced that they would be making safety upgrades to railings at the stadium. The team issued a statement:

“The safety of our fans is our top priority,” Rangers president Nolan Ryan said in a news release. “The initiatives we are announcing today for Rangers Ballpark in Arlington will help to ensure that we meet that priority.”

The Rangers said that railings would be raised “to the highest standard in the United States at this time.” Further:

Because it will take time for the rails to be changed, the club is taking some immediate steps to remind fans to be careful.

The most prominent is adding signs near the rails that read, in all capital letters, “DO NOT LEAN, SIT ON, OR STAND AGAINST RAIL.” The same warning will be made before each game over the public-address system and on the scoreboards. Plus, stadium workers will more closely monitor the rails.

The death of Shannon Stone was a tragic accident that couldn’t have been predicted. Nevertheless, it is good that the Rangers are taking steps to help assure that such an accident never happens again. And it’s a reminder to everyone who attends baseball games to take care, and pay close attention to what’s around them and the action on the field as well.


Shannon Stone's Wife Thanks Josh Hamilton, Rangers In Letter

The aftermath of a tragedy is always a difficult time. Following Thursday's heartbreaking passing of Texas firefighter Shannon Stone, people across the country felt the startling shockwaves of such an abrupt ending. None more so than Texas Rangers All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton.

The once troubled 30-year old has faced many demons throughout his life, but none could compare to his immediate feelings Thursday night. Rangers fan Shannon Stone, lost his balance attempting to catch a foul ball thrown his way by Hamilton -- his son's favorite player -- and tumbled over the stands, dropping 20 feet onto solid concrete. He was pronounced dead later that night. No one would blame Josh Hamilton, but that sentiment is little comfort in the face of such tragedy.

Tuesday morning the difficult healing process began, as Shannon's widowed wife, Jenny Stone, issued a statement in the Bronx Bulletin. The piece was the family's first official public statements since the accident, and thanked Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers organization for their support, imparting that in no way should they blame themselves.

The entire statement can be read here. Selections from the piece can be seen below.

Monday we said goodbye to a wonderful man. Shannon was truly a great husband, father, son, brother, uncle, firefighter, and friend. While we have been overwhelmed with sadness by his death, we have also been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and sympathy that we have received, from complete strangers as far away as New Zealand, to the former president of the United States of America, to our closest friends and family. While we will never forget that horrible night, we also will never forget the gentleman from Hawley, Texas, who protected Cooper that evening and came to pay his respects on Sunday. 

We are also thankful for Nolan Ryan, Josh Hamilton, the Texas Rangers, the Rangers fans, and all baseball fans, which have showed such concern and compassion.

Josh Hamilton remains Cooper's favorite baseball player, the Texas Rangers will always be our team, and baseball will always be our favorite game.    

Again, we are so very thankful, appreciative, and overwhelmed by all of the support we have received. Shannon loved going to watch the Rangers and he loved Cooper. And, at the very end, he lived life to its fullest, doing something he loved.


Lessons From Shannon Stone Incident Going Unheeded By Some

Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times writes about the recent death of Texas Rangers fan Shannon Stone, who died after falling over a railing in pursuit of a ball tossed by an outfielder, and how, during this week's Home Run Derby, it was as if nothing had changed.

There was the guy in checkered Bermuda shorts who lunged to catch a ball just before falling into a swimming pool less than five feet deep. There was the guy in the polo shirt who wrestled a ball from the clutches of a woman while both tangled on a concrete floor.

Then there was Keith Carmickle, the guy who reached too far in attempting to catch a homer by Prince Fielder and was left dangling 20 feet above the pool deck before his brother and a friend pulled him to safety.

While Stone's death was a tragedy, and was preventable to boot, what happened to him is rare. You might recall that when the footage of Stone's fall was initially broadcast, one of the Athletics' broadcasters actually laughed. He didn't do so because he was a terrible person. He did so because what happened initially looked more funny than dangerous, like Tobias Funke jumping off a staircase in Arrested Development. 

This isn't to say that a fall like the kind Stone took is merely a bit of slapstick. It was dangerous. He shouldn't have done it, and the truth is that baseball should probably do more to prevent that sort of thing from happening. Plaschke is right that the risk-reward ratio is way out of whack. Like he says, "It's just a ball."

But it's also true that people like risks, particularly when, in most cases, they won't pay any penalty for taking them. Many of us drive too fast, and we accept the risk of doing so because, most of the time, we don't wreck. And fans often reach for foul balls, partly as an instinctive decision in the heat of the moment, but also because most of the time, nothing happens. In Stone's case, something did happen. He paid the price for thousands of fans who have lunged and lived to tell about it. 


Hundreds Attend Shannon Stone's Funeral

Shannon Stone, the firefighter who fell to his death while trying to catch a ball thrown into the stands during a Texas Rangers game last week, was buried on Monday. Hundreds of friends and family members attended the funeral, according to the Associated Press.

Stone's casket was carried by 10 of his fellow firefighters and brought to a firetruck that was waiting outside the First United Methodist Church in Brownswood, Texas. The firetruck carried the casket to the cemetery, about eight miles away and was followed by a procession that included 60 emergency vehicles. Trash collectors and farmers reportedly pulled over to join the hundreds of people lining the streets. 

During the funeral, fire department chaplain David Fair tried to keep the mood light, telling funny stories about Stone that included a top-10 list that actually included 11 items, a joke about Stone's lack of math skills.  Johnson County Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Russek II said he knew Stone for more than 20 years and said he found the ceremony positive:

"They really, really captured the essence of what he was - a really good guy with a good sense of humor," Russek said. "He cared about people, like a true servant."


Funeral Of Rangers Fan Shannon Stone Expected To Draw Thousands Monday

Four days after 39-year-old Texas Rangers fan Shannon Stone passed away after an accident at Rangers Ballpark, thousands of people are expected to attend his funeral on Monday. Executives from the Rangers front office are expected to attend, along with a number of Stone's fellow firefighters from across the state. A memorial service will take place at First United Methodist Church in Brownwood, Texas, followed by a procession to the cemetery that is expected to include over 100 fire trucks.

Stone passed away on Thursday after falling 20 feet over a railing while trying to catch a ball. A memorial fund has been set up in his name. Stone was attending the game with his six-year-old son, whose favorite player is Josh Hamilton. When Hamilton threw a ball into the stands towards Stone and his son, Stone reached out to catch it but tragically fell over the railing onto concrete. He went into cardiac arrest en route to the hospital and was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

Stay with this StoryStream for more on Thursday night's tragedy. Visit SB Nation's Lonestar Ball for more on the Rangers.


Shannon Stone's Public Visitation Drew 'Hundreds' Of Mourners

Sunday night, family and associates of Shannon Stone attended a Brownwood, Texas public visitation in honor of the deceased Texas Rangers fan. Stone's funeral service is scheduled for Monday, according to the Associated Press.

Stone passed away Thursday night after falling from the outfield stands at Rangers Park while trying to catch a ball tossed by Josh Hamilton. He appeared to land on his upper body in the confined space, telling medical personnel to take care of his son as he was removed from the stadium on a stretcher. Players and fans on both sides, and all throughout sports, have been shaken by the story.

The Rangers have set up a fund in Stone's memory, pinned black ribbons on player jerseys, lowered flags to half-mast and held a moment of silence. 

Stay with this StoryStream for more on Thursday night's tragedy. Visit SB Nation's Lonestar Ball for more on the Rangers.


Shannon Stone Memorial Fund Established, Oakland A's Donate $5,000

The Texas Rangers established a memorial account in honor of Shannon Stone, the fan who passed away after falling from his seat in left field on Thursday night. Stone, a firefighter with the Brownwood fire department, fell about 20 feet while reaching over a left field railing to catch a foul ball thrown into the seats by Josh Hamilton. On the way to the hospital, Stone went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead a short time later.

The memorial fund is setup through the Rangers arm of MLB.com, allowing fans to fill out a form and donate any amount. If you'd like to give, you can find the information here. The fund is, presumably, for Stone's family, including his young son, who was next to him as he fell on Thursday night.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser, the Oakland A's chipped-in right away, giving a significant amount to the fund.

The organization has donated $5,000 to the Shannon Stone fund the set up today.

Stay with this StoryStream for more on Thursday night's tragedy. Visit SB Nation's Lonestar Ball for more on the Rangers.


Rangers, Athletics To Play Friday Night With Black Ribbons; Josh Hamilton Will Play

Both the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics will play with black ribbons on their uniforms for Friday night’s game, in memory of Shannon Stone, the Rangers fan who died after falling over a railing reaching for a ball tossed his way by Texas’ Josh Hamilton during Thursday night’s game.

In fact, A’s beat writer Susan Slusser tweets that the teams will continue to wear the ribbons throughout their weekend series.

Also, Slusser tweets about Josh Hamilton’s status:

Washington said Hamilton wanted to be out there, so he is in lineup. #Athletics #Rangers

This has to be a very difficult day for Hamilton, who was simply trying to do something nice for a man and his son, something that is done dozens of times every day at major league ballparks, flipping a souvenir into the stands. This is a tragic accident being mourned by baseball players, management and fans today. The game will go on, but tinged with sadness.


Texas Rangers Will Honor Shannon Stone With Moment Of Silence Friday

The Texas Rangers are planning several displays of support for Shannon Stone, the local firefighter who died after falling over the railing reaching for a ball thrown into the stands on Thursday. Among the the ways they will honor him will be the lowering of all flags to half-staff at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The team will also observe a moment of silence before Friday's game against the Oakland A's. A press conference is scheduled for Friday to discuss the incident and aftermath at which Rangers president and CEO Nolan Ryan is expected to be in attendance.

Stone, an 18-year veteran of the Brownswood Fire Department, died at the ballpark after suffering a head injury. He fell out of the stands while reaching for a foul ball that had been thrown into the stands by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton. There has not yet been any word as to whether or not Hamilton will play in the game.


Shannon Stone's Fellow Firefighters Mourn His Death

A fan dying at a sporting event is a tragedy no matter what the extenuating circumstances. That Shannon Stone, who fell to his death during Thursday's game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington while reaching for a ball thrown into the stands, was a lieutenant for a local fire department only seems to make it worse. His co-firefighters at the Brownwood Fire Department seem to be taking the news especially hard:

"You worry about him getting hurt fighting a fire, and I always worry about that with my guys, but this is something you don't expect," Brownwood fire chief Del Albright said.

The Brownwood firefighters spent time with each other on Friday and had a chaplain on hand. Now, they are turning their attention to the family, including Stone's 6-year-old son, who reportedly witnessed the fall.

Albright said Stone was a consummate family man and spent most of his free time with his son. Stone was also lauded for being a dedicated firefighter, often bringing his son to the station if he was called into a meeting on his off-days. Captain Robert Mayers worked with Stone during his 18-year tenure with the department:

"I guess probably the most important thing to remember about him is he had a heart of gold," Myers said. "He had a rough exterior, but he'd do anything for anybody and he loved the fire service and the guys he worked with and his family. He had that little boy with him 24-7 when he was around."


Josh Hamilton May Be Out Of Rangers' Friday Lineup Following Fan Tragedy

Josh Hamilton might miss Friday's game between the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics after being an unfortunate part of the tragedy that involved Rangers fan Shannon Stone passing away.

Stone was attempting to catch a foul ball that Hamilton threw into the stands in Thursday night's series-opener, but the 39-year-old father lost his balance and fell 20 feet while trying to grab the ball the Rangers outfielder had thrown to him. Unsurprisingly, Hamilton is shook up from the whole ordeal.

"We spoke to the ballclub, they understood what has happened and we spoke to Josh," team president Nolan Ryan told the Associated Press. "I think as any of us would be, Josh is very distraught over this, as the entire team is."

The Rangers didn't open their clubhouse to reporters after Thursday's game, but manager Ron Washington said that he'll wait to see how Hamilton is feeling before making the decision if he'll play in Game 2 of the series.

"I think we'll deal with that ... when he gets here, to see how he feels," Washington told the AP.

Hamilton isn't to blame in this situation as the exact same situation has played out many times before without such a horrific result, but it wouldn't be surprising to see him take a few days to clear his head.


Rangers Fan's Cause Of Death Unknown, Went Into Cardiac Arrest En Route To Hospital

The Texas Rangers fan that passed away on Thursday night after reaching for a baseball, falling 20 feet over the railing and onto the concrete below, was pronounced dead at a Fort Worth hospital an hour after the tragic incident.

The fan, later identified as 39-year-old firefighter Shannon Stone, was conscious after the fall but died after going into "full arrest" while being transported by ambulance according to a report from the Associated Press. An official cause of death from the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office has not yet been made public.

The accident seems to have affected Oakland Athletics reliever Brad Ziegler most, who was in the visitor's bullpen nearest the area where Stone fell. Ziegler was in tears after the game when he found out about the death, according to the AP.

According to the report, Ziegler said when Stone told people tending to him that his young son was "up there by himself" and asked them to check on the boy while he was being put on the stretcher.

"He had his arms swinging. He talked and was conscious. We assumed he was OK," Ziegler told the AP. "But when you find out he's not, it's just tough."

It is tough, for everyone, to see such a tragic accident happen -- especially when thinking about Stone's son having to witness the horrible incident.


Josh Hamilton 'Distraught' After Texas Rangers Fan Falls From Stands

It was five-seconds that have been played out an infinite number of times throughout the history of baseball, but never with such tragic consequences.

During a break in Thursday's Rangers-Athletics matchup, outfielder Josh Hamilton tossed a baseball towards an exuberant fan's outstretched arms. In an attempt to catch the ball the young Rangers fan, with his son by his side, leaned a little too far forward, lost his balance and fell approximately 20 feet from the left-field stands to the concrete level below him. The man would leave on a stretcher, and be pronounced dead three hours later.

Josh Hamilton did not hear of the news until well after the game. Texas Rangers owner Nolan Ryan issued this statement.

"I think as any of us would be, Josh is very distraught over this as the entire team is," Ryan said. Ryan added that the Rangers are "very heavy-hearted about this."

Rangers manager Ron Washington added: "Josh is fine -- outwards he's fine. I guess he's got to deal with it in his own way."

Without question, this a tragedy beyond measure. SB Nation's thoughts go out to all parties involved in this unfortunate accident.

Stay with this StoryStream for more on Thursday night's tragedy. Visit SB Nation's Lonestar Ball for more on the Rangers.


Texas Rangers Fan Death Hits Oakland Athletics Hard, Players 'In Tears'

The Oakland A's were the visiting team at the Ballpark in Arlington when Shannon Stone, a Texas Rangers sitiing in left field, fell to his death while trying to catch a ball tossed into the stands Thursday night. The incident took place near the Athletics' bullpen, as you can see in this photo.

Athletics reliever Brad Ziegler says that after the incident, Stone was asking Rangers employees to watch out for his young son, who was in the stands when the incident took place (and was also trying to catch the ball as his father fell over the railing). Stone was, obviously, talking at that point, so Ziegler was caught off guard when he heard of his death later.

Brad Ziegler in tears over fan's death, had seen him come off field on stretcher but conscious. Assumed he was ok.

Susan Slusser from the San Francisco Chronicle has been reporting from the Athletics' clubhouse about the incident, and apparently the players are taking it hard - the clubhouse was "silent." The Rangers' clubhouse, meanwhile, wasn't even opened to the press.

Stay with this StoryStream for more on Thursday night's tragedy. Visit SB Nation's Lonestar Ball for more on the Rangers.


Shannon Stone Identified As Texas Rangers Fan Who Died In Fall From Stands

The Texas Rangers fan who fell over an outfield railing while trying to catch a ball tossed by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton has been identified as Shannon Stone of Brownwood, Texas, Bud Kennedy of the Star-Telegram confirmed. Brownwood is about three hours southwest of Dallas. Stone was a lieutenant at the Brownwood Fire Department, and was a native of Cleburne, about an hour southeast of Dallas.

A link to a Facebook page posted by Kennedy shows Stone in a picture with his son, who was standing next to him, also trying to catch the ball, as Stone fell over the railing. Stone reportedly asked ballpark employees to look after his son when he was taken away on a stretcher. The Facebook page also identifies Stone as a Rangers fan.

Our thoughts go out to the family of Mr. Stone after Thursday's tragic accident.

Stay with this StoryStream for more on Thursday night's tragedy. Visit SB Nation's Lonestar Ball for more on the Rangers.


Texas Rangers Fan Dies After Falling From Stands

A Texas Rangers fan who leaned over a railing while trying to catch a ball tossed into the stands by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton has died, according to Nolan Ryan and the Dallas Morning News. The young man simply leaned a bit too far and was in an awkward position when he went over the railing. He didn't fall particularly far, but he fell into a very tight space between the railing and the outfield fence. He reportedly was taken from the stadium on a stretcher

Here's Ryan's reaction:

"We are deeply saddened to learn that the man who fell has passed away as a result of this tragic accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."

Rangers manager Ron Washington, meanwhile, talks about his reaction and how Hamilton appears to be doing:

It's always difficult when someone loses their life. Our prayers and thoughts go out to their family. It's sad. It's very sad."

On how Josh Hamilton is doing? "Josh is fine. Outward he's fine. I guess he's got to deal with it in his own way."

It has been almost exactly a year since another Rangers fan fell from the club level of the Ballpark in Arlington and down to the lower level. That fan, who survived, was lunging after a foul ball.

That this young man died while leaning for a ball is, obviously, a tragedy. The practice of intentionally tossing balls into the stands is as old as time, but one thing that's clear, from incidents like these and from many incidents of fan interference throughout baseball, is that when balls fly in the direction of fans, they often act instinctively. That's natural, or something like it, and sometimes it has awful results.

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