ARLINGTON, Texas — After an incredible race to the postseason in both Wild Card races, Friday marked the first day of the 2011 MLB Division Series with two games scheduled – the Texas Rangers versus the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees versus the Detroit Tigers.
The Rangers kicked off the beginning of the postseason with game one of the ALDS by honoring the memory of Shannon Stone, a Rangers fan who fell to his death at Rangers Ballpark earlier in the season. Stone and his six-year-old son, Cooper, traveled three hours from their home in Brownwood, Texas to see the Rangers take on the Oakland Athletics when Stone reached over the railing to catch a ball thrown up by Rangers centerfielder Josh Hamilton. Stone lost his balance and fell to the ground about twenty feet where he eventually went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead within the hour. Club owner Nolan Ryan has been in constant contact with Stone’s wife, Jenny, and the rest of the Stone family since the horrific accident on July 7, offering any sort of assistance the team can provide.
A few weeks ago, after conversations with Hamilton about his willingness to participate, Ryan called to invite the Stone family to game one of the ALDS and ask if Cooper would be interested in throwing out the first pitch to his favorite player, Hamilton. Though Cooper has wanted to return to the stadium since the incident occurred, his mother has not been ready to return. Ready to face the struggle, the Stone family returned to Rangers Ballpark yesterday to honor Shannon.
With close to 50,000 fans in attendance for last night’s game, fans rose to their feet, many teary-eyed, to watch Cooper toss the first pitch. Wearing a Rangers jersey with Hamilton’s number 32 and “Cooper” stitched across the back, Cooper was joined on the mound by his mother and Ryan. After Hamilton caught the ball, he joined the Stone family for the first time and embraced Cooper with a hug first, and then his mother, Jenny. In a statement issued by the club, Jenny stated, “They have turned a difficult return to The Ballpark into a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Cooper. Nothing could be more exciting for a boy than throwing out the first pitch to his favorite player. We are glad and grateful to be here to see the Rangers start their march to the World Series.” After the opening ceremonies, Cooper, Jenny, and six other guests sat in the first row behind home plate to watch the game.
The Rangers have also announced they will build a statue of Shannon and Cooper to be placed outside the home plate entrance of the stadium, which should be unveiled by opening day of the 2012 season. Additionally, the club brought in over $150,000 through an auction sponsored by Fox Sports Southwest for a memorial fund on the family’s behalf.
The Good in Sports recognizes the Texas Rangers for their honorable action in remembering Shannon Stone and allowing his family a special day at the ballpark.
- To donate to the Shannon Stone Memorial Fund, please visit: https://secure.mlb.com/tex/community/shannon_stone_fund.jsp
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