- Associated Press - Thursday, July 7, 2011

ARLINGTON, TEXAS (AP) - The Texas Rangers say a fan died after falling out of the stands while trying to catch a baseball tossed his way during a game Thursday night.

The Rangers said the man fell about 20 feet.

“We had a very tragic accident tonight and one of our fans lost their life reaching over the rail trying to get a ball,” team president Nolan Ryan said. “As an organization, and as our team members and our staff, we’re very heavy-hearted about this, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.”

A very somber Ryan didn’t get into details about the accident or release the man’s name.

Ronnie Hargis was sitting in the stands next to the victim, who was at the game with his young son. The men were talking to each other before the accident.

“He went straight down. I tried to grab him but I couldn’t,” Hargis said. “I tried to slow him down a little bit.”

TV replays showed the man falling head-first and landing behind a 14-foot-high wall supporting a video board for replays and scores. The area where the man fell is out of sight from the field.

The accident occurred in the second inning after Oakland’s Conor Jackson hit a foul ball that ricocheted into left field. Hamilton retrieved the ball and tossed it into the stands. Replays on Oakland’s television broadcast show the man reaching for the ball and apparently catching it before tumbling.

“We spoke to the ballclub, they understood what has happened and we spoke to Josh,” Ryan said. “I think as any of us would be, Josh is very distraught over this, as the entire team is.”

Replays on Oakland’s television broadcast show the man reaching for the ball and apparently catching it before falling.

There was an audible gasp in the stands when the man tumbled over the rail, eerily similar to an accident last July when a man fell about 30 feet from the second-deck of seats down the right-field line while trying to catch a foul ball.

Before the Rangers batted in the second, manager Ron Washington spoke briefly with one of the umpires. Michael Young, who was leading off the inning, could be seen talking to A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki and pointing toward the area where the previous accident happened.

Former president George W. Bush was sitting in the front row with Ryan near the Rangers when the accident happened. Ryan left moments later while Bush remained in the seats.

Ryan said the former president, who is a frequent visitor to Rangers Ballpark, was aware of what was happening.

Hargis‘ daughter said the victim’s head was bleeding badly.

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