The Texas Rangers - and the fan who tumbled over the railing and fell 30 feet into a lower deck while chasing a foul ball - were lucky last night at the ballpark in Arlington.
As Cleveland Indians manager Manny Acta said, "A fatality could have happened there."
The adult male fan was sitting in mid-level section 235 above Texas' dugout when Nelson Cruz sent a foul ball his way in the fifth inning. The ball hit three rows behind and caromed back toward the field. The fan, sitting in the first row, jumped to snare the ball and lost his balance, tumbling over the railing. The worst part? He momentarily grabbed the railing and caught himself, before seconds later losing his grip and somersaulting into the section of fans below him.
After a heart-stopping 16-minute delay, amazingly the fan was responsive and able to move his extremities and no one was seriously injured.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime freak accident. But what happens at the ballpark almost nightly is what scares me.
Greene's Hill is the beautiful, sloping grassy knoll out in center field. Named after former Arlington Mayor Richard Greene, it provides hitters a backdrop and fans a playground. You've seen it. When a homer heads toward the hill, chaos ensues.
Maybe I'm getting old. I've bungee jumped and skydived, but when I see kids fighting each other for homers on the hill, I cringe. I've said this for a couple years now and so far - thankfully - I've been wrong: It's just a matter of time until someone gets seriously hurt out there.
Took my stepson and his buddy to a game earlier last season. Spent some time in center field and, sure enough, here comes a homer. With the ball in mid-flight, frolicking kids jumped under and over the railing and ran onto the grass. Some fell on the slippery grass. Others tumbled over each other. Few, if any, were tracking the ball.
As the ball approached, it sailed about 3 inches from an unsuspecting kid's noggin'. He never knew what didn't hit him. The ball landed on the grass, there was a big dogpile and most left with grass stains and smiles. Scared the crap outta me.
I can just envision a similar scramble, a kid loses his balance, takes a hard-hit homer off the temple and ...
Another problem out there: Adults. Last night Cruz hit a homer to center and I coulda swore I saw an adult male out there pushing kids out of the way to get the ball. Noooooo!
My suggestion: Only folks allowed on Greene's Hill are women. In bikinis.