With 2011 drawing to a close, the Shannon Stone tragedy at Rangers Ballpark is appearing on most, if not all, of the year-end retrospectives.
And while many of those lists will simply note the accident that led to the 39-year-old father falling to his death after trying to catch a ball thrown by Josh Hamilton, the New York Times Magazine scored an interesting interview with Stone's parents. Though neither Al or SuZann Stone get into the details of the fall or its effects on young Cooper Stone — a public stance that has been m.o. since the tragedy — they relate a story about how Al once caught a foul ball from Buddy Bell when Shannon was young.
Shannon Stone liked Bell as much as Cooper likes Josh Hamilton now and the foul ball quickly became a family treasure. Because of that, Al and SuZann knew exactly why Shannon made the effort he did — and why Hamilton shouldn't think twice about continuing the practice of throwing baseballs into the stands as souvenirs.
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."
As someone who immediately identified with this sentiment (with the help of Gorman Thomas), I like that SuZann Stone wrote that letter to Josh Hamilton. If someone that close to Shannon Stone can identify that it was a freak occurrence, the cynics that predictably surfaced after the accident should be able to, as well.