Unfortunately, it often takes a tragedy to correct a dangerous situation. After a 39-year-old fan fell 20 feet to his death last night in Arlington, Texas, the Rangers issued a statement expressing remorse and saying they will be reviewing fan safety at Rangers Ballpark.
Shannon Stone tumbled over a railing in the left field stands while trying to catch a souvenir baseball thrown by Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton who had retrieved the foul ball off the bat of the A's Connor Jackson. The firefighter from Brownwood, Texas landed headfirst on the concrete surface below the stands and suffered a fatal heart attack while being transported to a local hospital.
While such accidents rarely occur in the bleachers, if you've ever ventured into the third deck at AT&T Park or the Oakland Coliseum you know treacherous the climb to the cheap seats can be. Throw in the steep incline, low railings and alcohol- fueled fans, you have a potentially lethal triple play.
Since stadium configurations can't be easily changed and higher front row railings would block too many fans' view of the game, the best available remedy is to place safety nets beneath the upper decks. Attending a baseball game can be scary enough with balls and bats flying into the stands. Major League Baseball should do all it can to eliminate falling fans from the game day experience.