With the shocking image of a fan falling 20 feet onto a concrete surface behind the outfield wall at Rangers Stadium is still fresh in the minds of Major League Baseball and it’s players, now might be the time for the league to examine ballpark safety.
When 39-year-old firefighter Shannon Stone flipped over a left field railing reaching for a ball from Josh Hamilton and later died en route to a hospital, he became the second fan casualty from a ballpark fall this season.
Navigating your way through a narrow aisle in the upper deck can be treacherous, and reaching over railings for foul balls can be life-threatening. Is it time for MLB to require more protective barriers at the front of sections or safety nets below them?
Bay Citizen blogger Rich Walcoff suggests safety nets may be the easiest way to increase fan safety without obscuring views of the on-field action or forcing major stadium overhauls.
Another Rangers fan plummeted 30 feet at Rangers Park just last year, fracturing his skull and spraining an ankle while reaching for a foul ball in the upper deck. And during the stadium’s first game in 1994, a fan suffered serious injuries after a fall.
In the wake of Thursday night’s tragedy, Rangers team president Nolan Ryan was in no mood to discuss safety issues at the team’s stadium..
“We’re not prepared to speak about anything further than the accident and the tragedy. That’s where I’m going to leave it.”
The earlier incident this spring occurred in May at Coors Field where a 27-year-old man fell 20 feet to his death while sliding on a railing.
Hamilton, who was understandably distraught after learning of Stone’s death, is in the lineup for the Rangers’ Friday matchup with Oakland.
The Rangers will reportedly fly their flags at half staff for tonight’s game and have already begun a memorial fund for Stone’s family
Do you think Major League Baseball stadiums are unsafe? Should the league and individual ballparks be required to upgrade safety features?