ARLINGTON, TEXAS (AP) - After a fan fell out of the club level of seats at Rangers Ballpark while trying to catch a foul ball last July, the team immediately assessed the railings throughout the stadium.
Since all the railings exceeded international and local building codes, and the only similar accident occurred during the ballpark’s first game in 1994, it was determined that everything was adequate. Though there already were signs cautioning fans against leaning or sitting on the railings, the team made sure the signs were in every section.
A year and a day later, an eerily similar fall, this one fatal, has the Rangers again facing questions about safety at the stadium and evaluating whether they need to make changes.
Funeral services will be held Monday for Shannon Stone, a Brownwood firefighter who died less than an hour after he tumbled headfirst over a rail out of the seats in left field during a game Thursday night. He fell about 20 feet onto concrete behind the outfield wall.
The Rangers already have been in contact with city officials, as well as ballpark contractors and architects, about how to ensure safety for fans attending games played in the American League champion’s stadium.
“More meetings will be taking place early in the week,” team spokesman John Blake said Saturday. “The safety of Rangers fans is our top priority and we will be doing a thorough review to address this in a timely manner.”
All flags inside and around the stadium, including three dozen Texas state flags flying high above center field, remained at half-staff for Saturday night’s game against the Oakland Athletics. Players from both teams again wore black ribbons on their uniforms.
The protective railing in left field where Stone fell is at least 33 inches high.
Arlington building officials inspected the stadium Friday in the wake of Stone’s fatal fall and again determined that everything was up to code. City building requirements are that guardrails must be at least 26 inches high.
“We’re going to look into anything that we can do to make our stadium safer for our fans,” team president Nolan Ryan said. “We will do a study on that, and we don’t know what, if there is anything, that we can do. But we certainly are open to anything that we can do.”
Visitation is scheduled for Sunday night at Davis Morris Funeral Home in Brownwood.
Stone was at Thursday night’s game with his 6-year-old son, Cooper.
During the second inning, All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton heard someone call out to him for a ball. He turned to see Stone and his son in the first row of seats, then responded to the pair with a nod. The boy’s favorite player is the reigning AL MVP.
A few pitches later, Oakland’s Conor Jackson hit a foul ball that ricocheted into left field. Hamilton scooped up the ball and tossed it their way.