It’s time for Major League Baseball stadiums to take action to prevent horrendous deaths like the one that took place last Thursday in Texas, where a father plunged headfirst to his death trying to catch a ball for his son.
The death of small-town fireman Shannon Stone during a Texas Rangers game, witnessed by the poor man’s 6-year-old son — and by many more via online video — is not the first of its kind at a ballpark. And it won’t be the last unless something is done. In May a man fell 20 feet headfirst to his death, exacly like Stone, at a Colorado ballpark.
By now you may have seen the horrific video of Stone, who was 39, tumbling down as he reached to catch a ball that Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton tossed into the crowd. Stone had bought his son a baseball glove for the game, and he was aiming to snatch a special souvenir for his boy.
Miraculously, Stone wasn’t immediately killed by his fall. Although witnesses said that his head was bleeding profusely, he was still conscious. And he was thinking.
“Please check my son,” Stone told medics, “”My son’s up there alone.”
The firefighter from Brownwood went into cardiac arrest shortly thereafter and died.
At the same Rangers’ game Thursday, a fan was hit in the face with a ball and needed stiches.
You can’t blame the stadium for that. Baseball spectators should always be aware of what’s going on in a game, but they still might not be fast enough to get out of the way of a fast shot. That’s the risk you take when you attend a game.
Stone’s case was different. MLB teams need to put up proper protective fencing and netting to stop spectators from falling over railings, or to cushion their fall if they do.
A traumatized 6-year-old boy in Texas would still have his dad if these measures had already been taken.