Shannon Stone, Firefighter and Father and Rangers Fan: An American Life Recalled

Yesterday, over breakfast, I lingered over the brief piece that appears on Page 44 of The New York Times Magazine: "A Day at the Ballpark." My 8-year-old son, a baseball fan and aspiring catcher, saw the headline and the illustration -- a photo of a well-worn baseball -- and asked what the piece was about. "Shannon Stone," I told him. He knew the name but didn't know why.

"He's the man who died at Rangers game, trying to catch that ball Josh Hamilton threw to him so he could give it to his 6-year-old son." My son, who I've taken to the Ballpark countless times and whose prized possession is a foul ball someone gave him at a Rangers game last season, grew quiet. "Oh, yeah," he said. "That was a sad story." We talked about it when it happened, in early July, but not much since. There will be plenty of opportunities next season: Come Opening Day 2012, sculptor Bruce Greene's statute of Shannon and son Cooper will greet visitors to the Ballpark in Arlington, at the Home Plate Gate.

My son asked what the story in The Times was about. I told him: The producer of a radio show interviewed Shannon Stone's parents, Al and SuZann, about taking their own son to see Rangers games when he was a boy. I asked my son if he wanted to read it. He begged off. I read him just the last part:

SuZann: Shortly after the accident, there was some discussion about whether foul balls should be thrown into the stands to the fans. I wrote to Josh Hamilton, and I said: "Please, don't stop throwing those balls. Because that's so important. That's why daddies bring their little boys to the ballgame is for memories like that. Please don't stop."

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