Boy, 6, watches father’s death fall at baseball game

The baseball world is again in shock after a Texas firefighter fell 20 feet to his death while reaching to catch a souvenir baseball tossed to the stadium crowd during a game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Thursday.

Firefighter Shannon Stone, 39, has since been identified as the victim. He was watching the game with his six-year-old son when tragedy struck.

The BBC reports that his death marks the second fatal fall at a Major League Baseball park this year, with the first, in May, involving a 27-year-old fan at the Colorado Rockies ballpark.

Footage of the latest fall has been picked up by news channels, prompting Rangers president Nolan Ryan to relay a request from the victim’s widow to cease broadcasting the death plunge.

According to the BBC, the fall was the fourth in the stadium’s 17-year history, but Rangers say the rails in the stands exceeded requirements set down by local building regulations.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the victim, Mr Stone, fell 20 feet from the first row of seats in left field onto a concrete walkway as he reached to catch a souvenir baseball thrown by Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton.

In The New York Times, the outfielder recounts the tragedy, remembering how he heard a shout, "Hey, Hamilton, how about the next one?". It came from Mr Stone, standing with his son in an elevated bank of seats.

"I just gave him a nod," Josh Hamilton told The New York Times. "… I saw him him just tip over the edge there. It was disbelief.

"… It’s like it happened in slow motion. Here was a little boy, screaming for his daddy after he had fallen."

Major League Baseball in a public statement, carried by CBS Sports, said: "All of us at Major League Baseball are shocked and saddened over the tragic death of Mr Stone. Our thoughts and prayers are with his son and his entire family.

"Major League Baseball has the utmost sensitivity to the safety of all the fans that come to our ballparks. Our players are encouraged to be fan-friendly and we will carefully review this incident with our clubs to continue to ensure a safe environment for our fans."