As promised last summer, the ball club erected a statue in memory of Shannon Stone, the man who fell to his death attempting to catch a ball for his six-year-old son.
Last summer, a little more than a month after the death of the 39-year-old firefighter, the Texas Rangers announced they would commission a statue in his honour at Rangers Ballpark. As reported by CNN, the statue would be in place before the start of the 2012 season.
A dedication ceremony was held after practice on Thursday, one day prior to the Rangers' home opener. Shannon's widow Jenny and her son Cooper, along with other family members and members of the Brownwood Texas Fire Department where Shannon worked, were present. Also in attendance was Buddy Bell, former Rangers star and now an executive with the White Sox. Bell was Stone's hero growing up and he once caught a foul ball hit by his idol.
The life size bronze statue, created by Texas sculptor Bruce Greene, depicts Shannon and Cooper holding hands, looking at each other and apparently talking. Both are sporting baseball caps and Cooper is also wearing a baseball glove. The statue, named "Rangers Fans," bears the following inscription, In memory of Shannon Stone and dedicated to all fans who love the game.
The statue stands just outside the home plate entrance to the stadium.
Last July 7, father and son were in the stands at Rangers Ballpark. A foul ball was retrieved by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, Cooper's favourite player. Hamilton then threw the ball into the stands. Stone attempted to catch it, lost his footing, and fell about 20 feet to the concrete below. Although conscious and expressing concern for his son, he died shortly after of blunt force trauma to his head.
At Thursday's ceremony, Hall of Fame pitcher and now president and CEO of the Rangers, Nolan Ryan, was quoted in the Houston Chronicle saying, Today is a celebration of spirit, family and love of the game. This bronze represents so many things that are good about baseball; competition, happiness, memories; and I think Shannon embodied what we as an organization hope for in our fans.
Although Stone's widow and son did not speak at the ceremony, a statement, reported by MLB.com, was read by Eric Nadel, a Rangers broadcaster. The statement in part, said, Shannon lived life to the fullest, doing the things that brought him joy, and being with the people he loved. We hope this statue reminds people to do just that. Now, as Shannon liked to say, 'Let's play ball, y'all!'
The day after the dedication, the Rangers did play ball. The team won their home opener, defeating the Chicago White Sox 3-2.