As Texas Rangers third baseman Michael Young and others took the field this afternoon for pre-game stretching, the shocking fall of a 25-year-old firefighter from Corinth from the second deck of Rangers Ballpark was clearly on their minds as they pointed and stared at Section 235 -- where Tyler Morris plummeted 30 feet onto four fans less than 24 hours earlier.
"My thoughts were that we had some serious problems on our hands in terms of injuries," Rangers president Nolan Ryan told reporters in a press conference today after visiting Morris at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. Ryan, who sat in his regular seat near the Rangers dugout last night, said he only saw the incident out of his peripheral vision and refused to watch footage offered to him later.
Morris suffered fractures to his skull, foot and ankle, Ryan said, and doctors are waiting to put a cast on his ankle until the swelling subsides. Described by Ryan as "a die-hard Rangers fan," Morris was presented with one of Josh Hamilton's bats and a ball autographed by Vladimir Guerrero, along with a stash of other team memorabilia. But none matched receiving the ball he tried to snag while falling over the rail, which someone handed to an usher to ensure it landed in Morris' hands.
"I think he was as thrilled to get that as anything because he thought he was gonna catch the ball," Ryan said. "He thought it hit off the tip of his finger, but he didn't really remember, and the next thing he knew, he was falling."
Ryan said Morris didn't remember how he lost his balance and only recalled one of his firefighter buddies, who he had attended the game with after a shift, attempting to grab him as he began to fall, and then hitting the video board that circles the upper deck.
"I was expecting him to look worse than he is," Ryan said. "When you think about what happened to him and where he is today, it's pretty remarkable."
After last night's game, Ryan said the team reviewed its policies and procedures and came away "extremely pleased" with how quickly security and paramedics responded. He noted that code requires the railing to be 26 inches, while the ballpark railing is 30 1/4 inches, including 42 inches on the aisles.
"We feel like what we have is adequate," Ryan said, adding that they're considering adding more signage and perhaps a message before games.
The only other fall of this nature at this stadium took place on the first day of the new ballpark on April 11, 1994, when Hollye Minter fell approximately 35 feet from the home-run porch in right field while posing for a photo. She broke her arm, two ribs and fractured two bones in her neck. The Rangers then replaced the 30 1/4-inch railing with 46-inch railing, as explained by team spokesman John Blake.
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Ryan was also asked about the team's bankruptcy situation and said nothing was resolved at Tuesday's mediation.
"Obviously there was some progress made just from the amount of time that was put in yesterday," he said. "There's progress, but to have a resolution, I don't know."