A Baseball Accident Witnesses Will Never Forget
July 6, 2010. It was another game day in Major League Baseball and a week before the All-Star break. As teams tried to finish the first half of the season on a good note, 20,428 fans entered Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to watch the Texas Rangers play the Cleveland Indians.
On a day when 84 degrees is not a typical Texas summer day, the weather wasn't the only thing out of the normal on that Tuesday night.
With the Rangers up 3-1, the game went to the bottom of the fifth. Nelson Cruz came up to bat with two outs. He fouled off his first pitch near the club level seats along the first base line.
"I was following the ball when I heard people gasp and start pointing all around me," said 21-year-old Katrina Guinn. "When I turned to see what everyone was looking at, I saw the man trying to grab the railing around the second level box seats. His head hit the electronic wrap-around sign and he lost his grasp on the railing. He fell right into the middle of the section and landed on a couple of people, including a young boy."
Tyler Morris, 25, fell from section 235 and landed in section 34. Guinn was sitting in section 33.
"There was no doubt that the fans were very disturbed to have witnessed the accident," said Jerry Romo, a Spanish broadcaster for the Texas Rangers. "While some of them turned away, other cried and it seemed like a lot of them were praying for the victim who fell to be all right."
Of those praying included Indians shortstop Jason Donald and left fielder Trevor Crowe, as seen in the television broadcasts.
The game was delayed for 16 minutes as Morris and four other fans were examined by paramedics. Morris regained his conscience and was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. He was released two days later.
"C.J. Wilson pitched an amazing game with several strikeouts, Nellie Cruz and Vlad Guerrero hit a couple of home runs, but still very little cheering," said 17-year-old Austin Jones.
Jones was sitting in the "Home Run Porch" in right field, which was where the last time a fan fell from the upper deck. A lady fell on April 11, 1994 in that section while posing for a picture after the Rangers home opener. Afterwards, the rails in that section were raised from 30.5 inches to 46 inches.
Recently in 2005, a 18-year-old man intentionally jumped from the upper deck at Yankee Stadium and landed on the netting over the home plate seats. In 2008, a 25-year-old man tried to slide on the stair railing at Turner Field and slipped over, falling to his death. In 2009, a 34-year-old man fainted in the heat at Busch Stadium and fell onto an empty seat.
"The only way I see this being prevented is to change regulations regarding the height of rails at stadiums," Romo said. "From what I understand, Major League Baseball calls for rails to be no lower than 26 inches tall. The Rangers Ballpark in Arlington exceeds that by at least four inches."
Even a week after the incident, those who witnessed the fall are having a hard time forgetting about it.
"There are a lot of things in ballparks that have to be fixed and you'd like to see people be a little more proactive. We need higher rails so that doesn't happen. I've always said they should bring the nets behind home plate to the other side of the dugouts. Balls zip in there all the time and there are little kids that have seats right behind our dugout," Michael Young said according to ESPN.com .
"Just the other day I pinched myself and was like, 'Dad, did that really happen? Did I really see a man come tumbling down helplessly?' Just talking about it gives me the chills," said Allyson Guinn, Katrina's younger sister.
Allyson is only 13. She was also sitting in section 33 with her sister, which is located behind the Rangers' dugout.
"It was one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen. Something I will never forget," Jones said.
"It's not everyday you see somebody falling more than 30 feet onto a sea of people. I really wish I hadn't seen the accident at all," said Romo. "This wasn't the first time a fan falls from a higher deck to a lower one at a sporting event and as much as we would like for it not to happen again, it probably will."
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