After Fan Falls To His Death: Time To Stop Tossing Things Into Stands?

Jul 8, 2011
Originally published on February 3, 2012 10:51 am

Update at 6:45 p.m. ET. Hamilton Says He Heard Fan, Son

Texas slugger Josh Hamilton has described what he saw of a tragic incident during Thursday's game, in which a fan died trying to catch a baseball the outfielder had thrown to him in the stands.

Hamilton tells the AP that he tossed the ball to Shannon Stone, 39 — who was attending the game with his son Cooper, 6 — and saw him fall 20 feet to his death.

According to the AP:

Hamilton says he remembers the man's fall "like it happened in slow motion." He also remembers the screams of the little boy who came to the game with his dad in hopes of catching a ball.

Hamilton says he can't stop praying for Stone's family. The reigning AL MVP is playing in Texas' game against Oakland on Friday night.

Our original post:

The sad story of a baseball fan's death Thursday after he fell from the stands during a Texas Rangers game raises a question that many of us who go to games have likely asked in recent years:

Is it time for teams to scale back the t-shirt tosses and other things they do that get crowds excited, but also sometimes get people to reach out over railings when they shouldn't?

What happened in Texas certainly doesn't sound like anything more than a terrible accident. As The Dallas Morning News writes, Shannon Stone — a firefighter in Brownwood, Texas — was "reaching over the rail for a foul ball tossed into the stands by Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton during the game against the Oakland A's" when he fell about 20 feet.

Stone was there with his young son, the newspaper says. The boy did not fall. Stone died later. Video of the accident is quite easy to find on YouTube.

According to Arlington, Texas, inspectors the railings at the Rangers' stadium all meet city codes for safety.

But these types of accidents have happened before at American sports stadiums. It's common for baseball players to toss balls to fans. And it's common in all sorts of sports venues for local businesses to promote themselves with t-shirts tossed from "cannons" into the stands. If you've been to games, you know about the scrambles those contests can set off.

Fans obviously accept some risk when they attend games. Foul balls and home runs will end up in the stands. So will hockey pucks (though the NHL installed nets behind its goals after the 2002 death of a fan who was struck by a puck).

But we wonder:

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