Friday, July 8, 2011

Tragedy Strikes the Texas Rangers

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When the Texas Rangers and the Oakland Athletics took the field on Thursday night, the last thought that would ever cross any of their minds is how things would play out and the events which would change one player, one family, and the Rangers' family forever.

After a foul ball down the left field line, Rangers' left fielder Josh Hamilton grabbed it and did what just about every baseball player has been known to do. He tossed it into the stands.

What happened next is something no one ever would have predicted.

A fan, reaching out for the ball, lost his balance and fell head first between the left field seats and the out of town scoreboard.

According to reports, Shannon Stone, a firefighter from the Brownwood Fire Department, was coherent and spoke to paramedics and authorities who rushed to his aid. His concern wasn't for his own well being but for his young son who was with him at the game.

The Rangers and A's returned their focus to the game as Texas poured on the offense and young left hander Derek Holland had arguably his best performance of the season.

But the story went from an impressive Rangers win to the tragic death of Stone who reportedly went into cardiac arrest on the way to a trauma 1 center in Fort Worth, Texas. He was pronounced dead at 8:26pm central time.

A father brings his young son to a baseball game, his son's first game according to a lot of reports I've seen, and it will be the last game this young child will ever be able to attend with his father.

Your thoughts and prayers go out to the Stone family as well as to the Brownwood Fire Department who lost one of their own on Thursday night.

But then you think about Josh Hamilton who was "distraught" according to Nolan Ryan when he made an official statement to the media after the game last night.

What is going to happen to Hamilton from here on out. When he grabs a foul ball, will he think about where or even if he tosses it to the fans? Will this tragedy be in the back of his mind when he goes up to bat or even when he heads out to his spot in left field?

There are no answers to any of the questions anyone wants to throw out there. There's no reason to ask the "what if" questions because they aren't going to do any good to anyone right now. What happened on Thursday night was a tragedy and by no means is anyone at fault.

I feel for the family who lost a husband, a son, a brother, a friend. I feel for those who were around Shannon Stone when his fall occurred and I feel for those who had to hold his young son back while he was screaming for his father.

The Rangers handled things correctly last night. They made an official statement and they closed the clubhouse to the media so the only statement made was the one that came from Nolan Ryan himself.

There's no telling the mind frame of the players when they begin to arrive at the ballpark on Friday afternoon to get ready for the second of a four game set against the A's.

The clubhouse will undoubtedly be a little more quiet and a little more somber than usual. Players won't have the same smiles they might have had every time they came to the park. It's going to feel different and there isn't one player, regardless of whether it's Texas or it's Oakland, who will be able to look at left field without the same visual replaying in their minds like a VCR that won't stop rewinding.

Parents will hold their children that much tighter and parents arriving to the ballpark on Friday night will keep an even closer eye on their children, themselves, and their surroundings.

This isn't supposed to happen. Not at a baseball game. Not at a place that brings families together and allows a father to bring his son to his very first baseball game.

Unfortunately it did happen and it's a tragedy that will remembered for a long time to come.

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