Nolan Ryan: Fan death a 'tragedy'
By SPORTS NETWORK
|Fans in the outfield bleachers react after another fan fell over the rail trying to catch a ball, in the second inning of the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics MLB American League baseball game in Arlington, Texas, July 7, 2011. (REUTERS/Tim Sharp)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - In a somber news conference Friday, Rangers president Nolan Ryan said Shannon Stone's death "hits us at the root of who we are."
Stone fell from the stands during Thursday's game against Oakland and later died from his injuries. Stone, a firefighter, was there with his son and fell while reaching for a foul ball thrown his way by Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton in the second inning.
Trying to get a foul ball is a regular occurrence at baseball games. Fans bring gloves all the time, and Ryan said he used to try to get them. But for someone to die doing so opposes everything the Rangers are about, Ryan said.
"We're about making memories, about family entertainment, and last night we had a father and son at the game and had a very tragic incident," Ryan said. "It just drives it to the core of what we're about and the memories that we try to make in this game for our fans."
Ryan said he talked to Stone's widow, Jenny, earlier Friday. She was "very concerned about her son and the impact that this is having on him," Ryan said, and asked him if he could do anything about the video footage of the accident. Ryan then appealed to the news media to stop showing the footage.
Stone went over the railing and fell about 20 feet from the left field lower reserved seats to the area behind the wall. His arms were outstretched and he disappeared behind the wall, which sits lower than the stands, as another fan sitting next to him tried and failed to grab him.
The incident came almost one year to the day after another fan, Tyler Morris, fell from the upper deck while reaching for a foul ball at the same stadium -- a fact Ryan called "disturbing."
Ryan said the club performed a study of its rails after the first accident, and found they exceeded the standard code.
"We felt what we had was adequate," Ryan said.
Then Thursday's accident happened. A city building inspector came in Friday morning and again determined the club adhered to standards, according to Ryan.
He said the team has not made any alterations to the stadium, other than placing a tarp on the site of the impact to discourage people from trying to see it.
The Rangers have also made a counselor available to players and emergency personnel who responded to the accident. Ryan had said Thursday night that Hamilton was "very distraught" over the incident.
Ryan also said players will wear a black ribbon on their uniforms to honor and remember Stone.