Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Very Special Moment

The start of the baseball playoffs is a special time for a baseball fan — no matter which teams are playing.

It's been particularly special for fans in north Texas the last couple of years because the Texas Rangers have been participants in the postseason, advancing to their first–ever World Series last year.

But what happened at The Ballpark in Arlington yesterday was extraordinary, touching beyond words.

Cooper Stone, the young son of the firefighter who fell to his death at The Ballpark in July, threw out the first pitch with his mother and Nolan Ryan watching on.

Being in the playoffs is becoming something of a regular thing for the Rangers — at least for the last couple of years — and a lot of people around here hope that appearing in the World Series is going to become a habit as well.

But no one around here wants to repeat what happened on that evening nearly three months ago when Cooper's dad, Shannon Stone, tumbled headfirst over the railing.

It was a traumatic moment for a lot of people around here, whether they follow the Rangers, whether they care about sports, whether they saw it happen. I haven't heard it mentioned much lately, but it never seems to be far from anyone's thoughts.

Surely, that night back in July when his father fell to his death was a traumatic one for Cooper. My understanding is that yesterday was the first time he has been at The Ballpark since that tragic night, and his mother spoke of the occasion as almost an act of closure, which, I suppose, it was.

It was also an act of closure for the people who live in this area. I didn't see Cooper's pitch, but I heard from many people who did — and almost all spoke of the healing effect it had on them.

If the Rangers return to the World Series, I hope they will invite Cooper and his mother to return to The Ballpark. But that might be easier said than done. The Rangers, who were almost never shut out at home this season, lost their divisional series opener with Tampa Bay, 9–0.

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