Yesterday I read an article from fellow Bleacher Report writer George Darkow that suggested the Texas Rangers have "dropped the ball" when it comes to how they dealt with the Shannon Stone tragedy. Stone was the man who fell over the railing in left field trying to catch a ball thrown into the crowd by Josh Hamilton. While I respect Darkow and his writing—which is very good—this article stood out in the amount of speculation that was included.
When the news broke about Stone, the Rangers organization acted with as much class as any organization could. In this video, Nolan Ryan addresses the media in regards to the Stone tragedy the following day.
Ryan first states what the Rangers and every MLB team should be about: making memories and fan entertainment. Ryan then states that he visited Shannon Stone's widow in her home in Brownwood, Texas and talked to her about her son, Cooper, and the way this is affecting him.
He also asks the media to take down the video of Stone falling from the railing. Ryan, who is in uncharted territory in handling this type of situation, handles this about as well as you can especially the day after the event.
But this was not the part in question. Supposedly the class the Rangers had shown has run its course and the Rangers could care less about the Stone family. This completely speculation, and not even factual speculation at that.
As reported by Drew Davidson of the Fort-Worth Star Telegram, the Rangers' wives held a silent auction in late July to help benefit the Shannon Stone Memorial Fund. The auction included players' memorabilia and some of their favorite things. Just because acts of kindness like this are not reported on ESPN does not mean they do not happen.
Even the fans are doing what they can to help out the Stone family. Rangers fan and writer of the Newberg Report, Jamey Newberg, helped donate a whopping $15,000 when around 400 of the Newberg Report's followers attended a game, a Q&A session with Jon Daniels and a memorabilia auction in late July. All proceeds from the event went directly to the Shannon Stone Memorial Fund.
Of course, money will not bring Cooper Stone's father back. He will not get to experience games with his father anymore and one of the few memories he will have of baseball and his father will be shadowed with this despair.
Darkow suggested the Rangers give the Stone family season tickets for life but how does this help anything? Do season tickets for life really trump all of the things the Rangers organization has done, is doing and will do in the future?
Josh Hamilton has stated that he will visit the Stone family when the season is over and the time is right. Hamilton told ESPN,
"Obviously, I want it to be personal, face to face...I'd love to know what kind of man Mr. Stone was and just meet his wife and his little boy and see where it goes from there...Nothing we can do is going to bring him back. But the organization can take care of the family and see that everything is going in the right direction."
But apparently the Texas Rangers are dropping the ball. What do you want the Rangers to do? They can't take back what happened and they can't give Cooper his father back. What kind of positive memories can the Rangers possibly create for Cooper? Season tickets to the place where he wants to be the least sure will not help.
Much is made about the railings and that they should have been higher and this would not have happened. It's not often reported that the railings in left field are 34 inches high, which is eight inches higher than the code calls for them to be.
Since the tragedy, the Rangers have raised the railings another eight inches to further insure the safety of their fans, as reported by Richard Durrett. The only thing the Rangers could have done to prevent this from happening would have been to place a net in the gap between the left field wall and the seats.
To think that the Rangers are not doing anything in response to this tragedy for the Stone family is absurd and I'm sure that the first person to say that would be Ms. Stone. Just because the Rangers are not flaunting their donations and support in the press does not mean it is not happening.