Tragedy at Tx. Rangers game; Awful
ARLINGTON, Texas -- A male fan has died after falling over the outfield railing and landing on the concrete behind the out-of-town scoreboard at the Rangers Ballpark during the second inning of Thursday's game between the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics.
"We are deeply saddened to learn that the man who fell has passed away as a result of this tragic accident," Rangers president/CEO Nolan Ryan said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
The Rangers closed the clubhouse to the media after their 6-0 win. They haven't released the name of the fan because they aren't sure if all the family members have been notified. The fan's young son attended the game with him.
The left-field wall is 14 feet high and the fan went headfirst over the railing, which is a few feet higher, for an approximately 20-foot drop. 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. The area where the man fell Thursday is out of sight from the field.
The fan, wearing a blue Rangers cap and white Rangers shirt, was seated in the front row with his young son. According to others seated near him, the man was yelling at Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton for a foul ball that was hit by Conor Jackson and ricocheted into left field in the second inning. Hamilton flipped the ball toward the fan and the fan leaned over, caught it and toppled over in the gap between the railing and the back of the scoreboard on the left-field fence.
After the game, the team, including Hamilton, was told what happened.
"I think as any of us would be, Josh is very distraught over this as the entire team is," Ryan said. Ryan added that the Rangers are "very heavy-hearted about this."
Rangers manager Ron Washington said: "Josh is fine -- outwards he's fine. I guess he's got to deal with it in his own way."
Washington said he will decide on Friday whether Hamilton needs a day off after what happened Thursday night.
A fellow fan said he was chatting with the man who fell earlier in the game and that he was a firefighter from Brownwood, but didn't know his name.
"I tried to grab him, but I couldn't," said Hargis, a 50-year-old from Hawley, Texas, who was sitting beside the falling fan. "I tried to slow him down a little bit. He went straight down."
Several fans, including Safawna Dunn, said paramedics quickly got to the fan and took him off in a stretcher.
"He was conscious," Dunn said.
The visitor's bullpen at the stadium is in left-center field. Athletics reliever Brad Ziegler was in tears after the game when he found out the man had died.
"They had him on a stretcher. He said, 'Please check on my son. My son was up there by himself.' The people who carried him out reassured him. 'Sir, we'll get your son, we'll make sure he's OK,'" Ziegler said. "He had his arms swinging. He talked and was conscious. We assumed he was OK. But when you find out he's not, it's just tough."
More on the Rangers
Richard Durrett and the ESPNDallas.com team have the inside scoop on the Rangers, the American League and Major League Baseball. Blog | ESPN Dallas
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.
The Rangers had released an initial statement saying the man was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital.
The incident comes one year and one day after a fan fell from the club level and landed in the lower deck, a 30-foot drop. That man, Tyler Morris, was taken to a local hospital after the game was stopped for 16 minutes to get him out of the stadium. Morris, coincidentally a firefighter as well, suffered a fractured skull and sprained ankle and went home two days after his fall.
Thursday's fall is the third by a fan over one of the railings. The first was April 11, 1994, after the Rangers' first home game in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Hollye Minter, a 28-year-old from Plano, Texas, posed for a photograph and fell from a railing in right field. She landed on empty seats and, according to various reports, broke her arm, two ribs and a few bones in her neck.
Club officials said the railings were raised after that game from 30.5 inches to 46 inches in the upper and lower areas of the park.
After Morris was hurt last year, he called the incident a "100 percent, total accident that could have happened to anybody." He said he didn't blame the Rangers or the ballpark.
Ryan said it was too early to talk about the two accidents and what evaluations the team might make about railings at the stadium.
"Tonight, we're not prepared to speak about anything further than the accident and the tragedy," Ryan said. "That's where I'm going to leave it."
It is the second fatal fall at a MLB ballpark this season. In May, a 27-year-old man died after he fell about 20 feet and struck his head on concrete during a Colorado Rockies game.
Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Follow Richard Durrett on Twitter: @espn_durrett
I saw the tape; its one of the saddest things you will ever see.
That poor kid...jeebus.....and gawd knows how Hamilton will deal with this...:(:(