Josh Hamilton patrols left field at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Friday, July 8th 2011. The night before a man fell to his death reaching for a souvenir ball tossed his way by Hamilton.
The gregarious Hamilton didn't decide to dodge the media due to anything related to his or the team's performance—he simply needed time to collect himself after a fan died from injuries suffered during the second inning of the game.
Josh Hamilton threw a ball that had landed foul up to a fan that had wanted the souvenir to give to his six-year-old son. The man, identified late last night as 39-year-old Brownwood firefighter Shannon Stone, fell 20 feet to his death after catching the toss from Hamilton.
Today in chilling detail, Josh Hamilton recounted the series of events that led up to the tragedy. The following quotes were provided by Anthony Andro, of Fort Worth Star Telegram's Blog, "Foul Territory":
"Behind me I heard someone say 'Hey Hamilton' how about the next one. I turned around and Stone was the first guy I saw sitting there with his son. I gave him a nod and I got the next one and threw it in that direction. I just remember it happened in slow motion. Obviously at soon as it happened, I couldn't help but think about what was happening behind that fence."
In the aforementioned interview, Hamilton stated that he could hear the boy "screaming for his Daddy" after he fell from the stands. When asked if he'd play in tonight's game:
After the terrible tragedy during last night's game, have the Texas Rangers handled the aftermath in the correct manner?
"The obligation that I have to this organization is nothing that would benefit me from not playing and trying to help those guys. I'm going to play. I talked with Wash. I talked with Gary Pettis about if I feel like I need some time, can I take some time. There's nothing I can do by not playing."
The Tarrant County medical examiner's office has determined Shannon Stone's cause of death as "blunt force trauma" due to his 20-foot fall at Rangers Ballpark on Thursday, July 7th, 2011.
Nolan Ryan stated that the Rangers Ballpark and Arlington was inspected on Friday and found to be up to code in terms of safety.
Our hearts and prayers are with the Stone family as they struggle to make it through this harrowing tragedy.