American Sport
Fan killed in fall at baseball game
Firefighter falls from stands as he catches ball thrown by player at Texas Rangers MLB game.
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2011 11:17
The man fell 20 feet behind a scoreboard after catching a ball thrown from the field [Reuters]

A fan fell to his death at a Major League Baseball game in Texas after catching a ball thrown to him by a player.

The man was reaching for a ball thrown to him by Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton during the second inning, and toppled over a railing after making the catch.

Television pictures on Thursday showed him falling behind a scoreboard, with a 20-foot drop to a paved area, as those around him reached out to grab him. He had been seated next to his young son.

Arlington Fire Department officials said the man, who witnesses said was conscious after the fall, "went into full arrest" while being transported by ambulance.

He was pronounced dead at a Fort Worth hospital less than an hour after he fell.

The Brownwood News reported on its website, citing the Brownwood city manager, that the victim was a firefighter in the city that is about a three-hour drive southwest of Arlington.

Ronnie Hargis was sitting next to the victim in the first row of seats in left field. The men had been talking before the accident.

Hargis reached out to try to grab the man, who fell head first through a gap of several feet that is between the seats and the 14-foot-high outfield wall.

"He went straight down. I tried to grab him, but I couldn't," Hargis said. "I tried to slow him down a little bit."

The area where the man landed was out of sight from the field.

There was a gasp in the stands at Rangers Ballpark when the man tumbled over the rail, similar to an accident there almost exactly a year earlier.

Another firefighter, Tyler Morris, fell about 30 feet from the second-deck of seats down the right-field line while trying to catch a foul ball on July 6, 2010.

He suffered a fractured skull and broken ankle.

"We had a very tragic accident tonight and one of our fans lost their life reaching over the rail trying to get a ball," team president Nolan Ryan said after the Rangers' 6-0 victory over Oakland A's.

"As an organization, and as our team members and our staff, we're very heavy-hearted about this, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family."

The Rangers clubhouse was closed following the game as the players were informed of the tragedy.

"We spoke to the ballclub, so they understand what happened," Ryan said. "As any of us would be, Josh is very distraught over this."

Thursday's accident happened in the second inning after Oakland's Conor Jackson hit a foul ball that ricocheted into left field.

Hamilton, the reigning American League MVP elected by fans to start his fourth consecutive All-Star game next week, retrieved the ball and tossed it into the stands, as players routinely do.

Safawna Dunn, who was sitting nearby, said the man was calling for Hamilton to throw him the ball.

The fan landed in sight of the Oakland bullpen.

"They had him on a stretcher and were carrying him out," local media quoted A's relief pitcher Brad Ziegler as saying.

He added that the man said his son was "Up there by himself."

"He was staying stuff like: 'Please check on my son.' And people were telling him: 'We'll check on your son, sir.'
"I think he had his arm splinted from falling, but he was conscious and moving. We assumed he was OK," a visibly upset Ziegler said.

"But when you find out he's not, it's just tough."

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