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Friday, July 15, 2011

Be careful when reaching for that foul ball

A Texas Rangers fan plunged 20' yesterday after reaching for a ball that was thrown into the stands by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton after a foul ball hit by Oakland A Conor Jackson in the 2nd inning of that game had ricocheted into left field. Hamilton picked up the ball and tossed it into the stands. Local firefighter Shannon Stone, who was sitting in the front row of his section, reached over the railing and caught the ball before losing his balance and falling 20' to the concrete floor behind the scoreboard. After he landed, he repeatedly asked those around him to check on his young son, who had witnessed the fall. He died less than an hour later. Be warned that the following videos may be difficult for some to watch.

Additional video, click here.

I have been questioning for some time now how many balls are used in a ball game and the cost of all those balls. I believe that all MLB baseballs should remain property of MLB as long as they deem it, including any high profile or record breaking home run balls hit out of the stadium. (This would alleviate ugly litigation that frequently occurs over ownership of such balls.) Routine home runs and foul balls could remain property of the fan who catches it once MLB releases their ownership.

I remember when the player who caught the inning ending ball would drop it on the mound for the next pitcher. Any balls remaining on the playing field should remain property of MLB and used for batting practice, rather than having players toss them into the stands. This would also reduce the chances of such critical and fatal fan falls, and also reduce team's operating costs (albeit a small percentage of those costs.) I also understand that this practice adds to fans in attendance enjoyment of that game, but at what cost? I imagine that Stone's family might file a wrongful death suit against the Texas Rangers, Oakland A's, MLB, and quite possibly the manufacturer of the ball. Had that ball not been thrown into the stands by a player, as opposed to a ball being hit into the stands, Stone would not have fallen to his death.

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