July 08, 2011

Fan Dies After Josh Hamilton Tosses Him Baseball: A fan attending the Texas Rangers game Thursday night died after Josh Hamilton tossed a foul ball to him in the second inning. Shannon Stone, a Brownwood, Texas, firefighter attending the game with his young son, was along the left field outfield wall and fell through an opening behind the outfield fence. Video footage from the Oakland A's broadcast shows the accident.

posted by graymatters to baseball at 02:40 AM - 17 comments

Holy shit.

posted by hincandenza at 05:54 AM on July 08, 2011

Obviously, I feel bad for the fan and his family (and those that watched it happen).

As well, I can't imagine how Hamilton feels, knowing that if he hadn't tossed that ball (or had throw in harder or in a different direction), this might not have happened.

I think we're going to see the implementation of netting over bullpens (that are behind the outfield wall and below the fans) at all stadiums in the near future. It'll protect the players from thrown/dropped objects, from home runs, and protect the fans from doing just this.

I suspect a lawsuit will pop up for this tragic death, regarding the railing not providing enough protection.

posted by grum@work at 08:22 AM on July 08, 2011

That was absolutely horrible to watch. Knowing the guy's kid was standing there next to him bothers me terribly.

There will definitely be a lawsuit, and rightfully so. That railing is far too short, and I'm assuming the victim wasn't 7'2" or something, so the fact he could ball over it so easily shows how dangerous the setup is. Something has to be done.

posted by dyams at 08:36 AM on July 08, 2011

That something else might be related to what was in the bottom of the article: I understand Major League Baseball wanting to provide fans with souvenirs that's probably why there's been a large increase in recent years with foul balls being thrown into the stands instead of being sent back to the dugout.

I wouldn't be surprised if: the players are requested not to throw balls to the fans, or hand them to fans within the front rows along the foul lines. Even throwing them to the fans within the lower deck, along the foul lines, could cause injuries by fans battling to get a ball. Any scramble for a foul ball in an open area shows that possibility.

As for the railing being short, it's short so as not to obstruct the view of seated fans. Even if such as railing were taller, you'd have fans getting between the spaces to get a ball; such a tragedy still could have happened. Unless you have a solid or secure chain-link fence at least 4 feet tall, this, unfortunately, likely will happen again. But then, who's going to want a valued front-row seat?

posted by jjzucal at 09:02 AM on July 08, 2011

Let's not forget this is the second instance in two years that a fan has gone over the railing at that ballpark. Last year's incident had a fan falling from the upper deck into the seats below.

If the railing were taller and a fan scaled the railing, they would be at fault for their injuries. This poor guy just went over at the thighs. That's not high enough to provide any real protection.

As for obstructing the view, I'm sure the organization would rather deal with the complaints than the lawsuits that are inevitably coming

posted by Tinman at 10:43 AM on July 08, 2011

I wouldn't be surprised if: the players are requested not to throw balls to the fans

A couple of years ago, MLB instructed the players to not throw balls into the stands after a player heaved one up there and accidentally hit someone in the noggin. I guess they haven't enforced that rule recently.

posted by grum@work at 11:15 AM on July 08, 2011

Several years ago, I saw a fan fall at about same location; i.e. between stands and outfield wall to walkway below. I'm surprised that the team had not put up some type of netting or something to try to prevent or lessen such falls. It looked like only about a three to four foot gap at the top.

posted by graymatters at 11:42 AM on July 08, 2011

This is a shocking tragedy, particularly for that little boy. His dad had a picture of the two of them as his Facebook profile. Seems like he was a proud parent.

Do firefighters get training on how to survive falls? I'm not blaming this guy for his death -- it could just be a fluke in how he landed or what he struck on the way down -- but I'd think a firefighter would be more capable than other fans of surviving a 20-foot fall.

He held on to the ball as he fell out of sight. It looked like he reached out for that wood porticullis-looking thing, but he had a ball in his hand.

posted by rcade at 12:24 PM on July 08, 2011

Do firefighters get training on how to survive falls?

Strange coincidence that the guy who fell from the upper deck (30 feet) and survived last year (one year and one day earlier) was also a firefighter.

From video, looks like he pushed in front of guy with glove in order to get the ball, which probably contributed to his losing his balance. Not blaming him, but not necessarily blaming the Rangers either.

posted by graymatters at 12:56 PM on July 08, 2011

As tragic this is for the guy who died, let alone his family, I shudder to think how this will affect Hamilton, who's got a history of, let's say, emotional frailty.

posted by MKUltra at 02:03 PM on July 08, 2011

Updated version of the story being posted in places is that he was conscious and communicative ("Make sure my son is okay.") when loaded into the ambulance, but then suffered a heart attack on the way to the hospital.

As well, Hamilton is being reported as "distraught".

posted by grum@work at 02:14 PM on July 08, 2011

How could he not be? How terrible for everyone.

posted by bperk at 05:02 PM on July 08, 2011

Do firefighters get training on how to survive falls?

I think it just completely caught him off surprise, and all his attention was on the ball until it was too late. 20 feet is enough to kill you, but isn't time enough for most adjustment if you've started out badly. Looking at his body position while falling, the arch of his back along with the way his head is positioned, it looks like the worst possible way to fall.

Terrible. This is why I don't really mind flying even though I could easily let it get to me. When it's your time, it's your time.

posted by justgary at 05:16 PM on July 08, 2011

A fan who fell 35 feet at the Rangers ballpark in 1994 made this prophetic statement last year: "So maybe this happened to me so they would raise the rails in Home Run Porch. Maybe this gentleman fell so that the Rangers will now really open their eyes and raise the rails everywhere else, because next time -- and I hate to say this -- somebody's going to die."

Waiting to do something until there's a death is an Arlington tradition. I went several semesters to UT-Arlington, down the road from the park. The school had enormously busy roads cutting through campus, which was a big hazard and source of ongoing controversy. The school now has two roads with pedestrian bridges. Both were only built after a student was killed trying to cross them.

posted by rcade at 10:40 PM on July 08, 2011

More fan falls at sports stadiums.

posted by rcade at 10:44 PM on July 08, 2011

Without question, the primary target of sympathy here should be this man's family & friends. At the same time, while being involved in this is something i would not wish on any athlete, in a way it feels especially cruel for Hamilton to be the one involved, given what an up and down ride his career (and life) have been. Just one more thing for him to have to deal with.

The whole thing sucks.

posted by brainofdtrain at 01:01 AM on July 09, 2011

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