Commentary

Baseball shaped by memories

Tragedy that much more difficult for a sport known for its father-son moments

Updated: July 9, 2011, 3:20 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- More than any other sport, baseball is about fathers and sons going to games together.

On Thursday night, Shannon Stone was doing just that. It was supposed to be an enjoyable evening at the ballpark for him and his 6-year-old son, Cooper.

Unfortunately, a freak accident caused the night to take a tragic turn.

While trying to catch a ball flipped his direction by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, Stone fell over the outfield railing to the ground 20 feet below.

[+] EnlargeTexas Rangers' fan falls
AP Photo/Jeffery WashingtonPolice and fans look over the railing where Shannon Stone fell from the stands at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in July.

Cooper stood yelling to see whether his dad was OK.

"That's one of the main things I remember," Hamilton said of hearing Cooper's cries. "It's definitely on my mind and in my heart. Like I said, I can't stop praying enough for them."

As Stone was being treated, he asked those tending to him to look after his son.

It was father and son worrying about each other in a tense moment. Tragically, the father died, and it's all most people have been able to think about.

"It's the first thing I thought about," said A's manager Bob Melvin, whose team played the Rangers on Thursday and again Friday.

A father is gone. A son without a father. It tells you just how precious life is.

"A bunch of guys drove to the ballpark today, and I'm positive that baseball wasn't the No. 1 thing on any of our minds," Rangers DH Michael Young said Friday. "It's difficult, especially for people who have kids who love the game and watch the games with their fathers growing up and so on. It's a difficult situation."

Shortstop Elvis Andrus said he thought about his father. His dad took him to his first baseball games while growing up in Maracay, Venezuela. Andrus was 7 when his father died.

"That's why I feel bad, that his kid was right next to him when he falls," Andrus said. "I sense hopefully his mom can raise him like my mom raised me. There's going to be tough times, but we understand that's life. As soon as you're born, you know you have a dad."

This summer, I took my two sons to Yankee Stadium for a baseball game. We toured the whole ballpark and had a blast. Last year, my oldest son came with me to Turner Field in Atlanta. You want to share special things with your kids.

It started for me when my grandfather took me to old Shea Stadium and the old Yankee Stadium while growing up. I'll never forget it. And it's something you want to pass on.

When you talk to players in the Rangers' clubhouse, you see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices: "What would happen if I'm not here to raise my kids anymore? What if I can't share things with them?"

Melvin said he understood the emotions some of his players who have kids might have after what happened Thursday night. Rangers president Nolan Ryan choked up a little when talking about a son losing a father and mentioned his own kids and grandchildren.

The loss of Stone brings out so many emotions.

Mike Napoli said Stone's death made him remember former Angels teammate Nick Adenhart, who died in a car crash in 2009.

Before every game, Napoli goes to the warning track in center field and writes Adenhart's name in the dirt.

He doesn't want to forget.

Today, a son is trying to remember the good times with his father.

"It's tough," Napoli said. "It's on my mind. It's on everyone's minds. I had a 30-minute drive home, and that's all I can think about. It's on my mind, even though we don't know this person. It's something sad. It's something the family and a little boy has to go through. It's something you never want to see."

Calvin Watkins is a reporter and columnist for ESPNDallas.com.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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