I woke up yesterday like it was any other morning during the work week. I was checking on work from the night before when I overheard something on the television that a fan had died after he fell at a ballpark. Automatically, I get cynical and think, oh he was drunk and hit his head. A few minutes later, I was in tears.
Shannon Stone was a 39 year-old husband and father to a 6 year old son. He loved to play catch with his son and loved going to Texas Rangers games with him. On that fateful Thursday evening, he took his son to a make-up game. That is correct, the game was not supposed to have even been played; however, due to rain, the game was pushed back from its’ earlier date. Anyway, on the way to the game, he stopped and bought a brand new glove for his son hoping to catch a ball. The look on his son’s face must have been electric. I know the feeling of a brand new glove, holding it down to try and break it in as soon as possible. Wrapping it in 800 rubber bands while sitting on it so that it works right for you sooner.
While at the game, there was a foul ball that ricocheted back onto the field near Josh Hamilton, the reigning American League MVP. As he has done MANY times in the past, Josh saw a fan he wanted to give the ball too and tossed it his way. Mr. Stone lunged for the ball and caught it. However, as he lunged he began to lose his balance and he fell 14 feet directly on his head. That electric look that his son had a few hours earlier turned to horror.
As paramedics rushed to him, he told the paramedics to make sure they got his son to go to the hospital with him and that he was alone. In his last few breaths, he was not worried about himself, but his son. Mr. Stone, as he was rushed to the hospital with his son in the front seat, went into cardiac arrest and died.
I am not sure how many games I went to with my dad growing up. He has taken me to many games and dealt with a crazy baseball fan. He is not a baseball nut like me, thankfully. But you know what? He is a dad who loves his son, just like Mr. Stone was. He would do anything to bring joy to his son’s face.
I pray for Mr. Stone’s widow and 6 year old son. I pray for Josh Hamilton, who has suffered through many demons in the past and keeps fighting them through his strong faith. As my son, who has attended his first game with me grows up, I hope that I can provide the same smile to his face the Mr. Stone’s son felt when he got the brand new glove. Whether it is a new glove or just by having a catch with him. That is why Field of Dreams is my favorite baseball movie. The line at the end where Ray asks his dad for a catch and he responds with “I’d like that.”
Remember to enjoy as many catches with your sons and daughters today. Enjoy those moments and treasure them. Remember there is a son broken heart in Texas that cannot enjoy those moments again and keep him and his family in your prayers.
To read a great perspective on this, click here.
Picture taken by Kristi Yehling in September 2007.