What a strange coincidence it is that once again the great game at the Ballpark in Arlington has been overshadowed by another tragic event.
It was July 6, 2010 when a fan reaching for a foul ball fell some 30 feet onto fans below. The Rangers soon thereafter raised the railings approximately 16 inches in the section to prevent a repeat of the event. But sadly the club didn’t do a total overhaul of the stadium which could have prevented the tragic event that happened at the ballpark on Thursday evening.
During the second inning a foul ball caromed off the wall and near left fielder Josh Hamilton. Hamilton, doing what players often do, threw the ball into the stands where the fan lost his balance while reaching across the railing to corral the souvenir. He fell 20 feet head first onto the concrete just behind the out of town scoreboard as his son looked on.
I am not writing to say that this is the fault of the Rangers or the fan—blame is not important here because accidents happen. You’re more likely to get hit by car crossing the street to enter the stadium or trip down the stairs walking to your seat than to fall over a railing. What I am saying, and I’m saying this quietly is this should be a lesson for all stadiums in every city throughout the country if not the world—fan safety has to become a priority, period.
I am speaking from my own experience at the ballpark. I have sat in the upper deck and have slipped, tripped and watched others do the same. I have seen foul balls rocket off the ends of bats and peg unsuspecting fans in the face. And I believe all of this can be avoided.
Ever since I have been going to the stadium, I have wondered about the safety of the patrons in it. I have always thought the bleachers were too steep and the railings were not high enough. I cringe when people take souvenir photos while leaning against rails that are barely taller than the average five-year-old because I always feel there is a chance someone will tumble over.
I have been fortunate enough to have tickets near or around home plate but I always dread sitting there. The crack of the bat coupled with the instance one is not looking could result in a serious injury that I have witnessed far too often. The screen does not extend far enough in my opinion and many fans are left defenseless.
I’m not asking for the clubs, the Rangers in particular, to make drastic changes. I just want them to avoid making small ones only after every tragic event. The park should be a place you can take your family and not worry about the getting hurt or watching someone get hurt. It should and will continue to be a fun place for all; it may just take some time to get past the death of this young father.
In the coming days, I expect the club to do something to remember the memory of a young father who lost his life enjoying a game with his son. The greatest honor they can give this fan is to protect the thousands of others who choose to spend a day at the park with their children so we don’t have to witness this again.