Fathers, Sons, and Baseball

Cooper Stone (left) sits on the statue entitled "Ranger Fan" that depicts him and his father Shannon.

Another baseball season is underway and this weekend thousands of parents will be taking their kids to the park for some dogs, some ball and some memories.

When Shannon Stone took his son Cooper to his first Major League Baseball game last summer, he did it with the hopes that he could recreate a magical moment Shannon had when he was a boy. Stone was a Texas Rangers fan as a kid and had the thrill of a lifetime when he caught a foul ball off the bat of Buddy Bell.

On the way into the stadium last July, the father and son stopped at a souvenir stand to get Cooper a glove so he could have a chance to catch a ball.  Shannon made sure he’d have a good chance too. Cooper’s favorite player was Josh Hamilton, and so their seats were in the first rows behind the left field fence, right behind the grass Hamilton patrolled for the Texas Rangers.

But, in the second inning, when a foul ball rolled to Hamilton what had started as the best day ever, would turn terribly tragic.

“The first [foul] ball I got I threw it to the ball girl.”, he recalled the day after the game. “Behind me I heard someone say ‘Hey Hamilton how about the next one?’ I turned around and Stone was the first guy I saw sitting there with his son. I gave him a nod and I got the next one and threw it in that direction.”

The toss was short. Shannon had to lean over the fence to make the grab for his son and the unthinkable happened. He fell 20 feet to the cement below (video). While he was being worked on by paramedics, Shannon, like any dad, kept asking about his son, worried he was alone. An hour later he would be pronounced dead.

On Thursday, the Texas Rangers unveiled a statue by sculptor Bruce Greene celebrating the bond of father, son, and baseball.

“Today is a celebration of spirit, family and love of the game,” Rangers President Nolan Ryan said. “This bronze represents so many things that are good about baseball — competition, happiness, memories — and I think Shannon embodied what we as an organization hope for in our fans.”

The life sized statue is of Shannon and Cooper sharing a classic father son moment. They’re holding hands, wearing ball caps, smiling and talking about the game. The inscription on the base reads: In memory of Shannon Stone and dedicated to all fans who love the game.

“Shannon lived life to the fullest, doing the things that brought him and others joy. We hope this statue reminds people of doing just that,” the family said in a statement.

Texas Rangers open the 2012 season at home today.

Photo by @Radio_Nate

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