The man who died after falling over an outfield railing at a Texas Rangers game was a decorated firefighter and devoted father who had taken his 6-year-old son to the ballpark in hopes of catching a ball.
Suzann Stone told The Associated Press that her son, Shannon, and young Cooper Stone had even stopped on the way to Arlington, Texas, on Thursday to buy the boy a new glove. The two were "almost attached at the hip" and went to Rangers games often, including one of the team's World Series games last season, she said.
"That's what they were there for was to catch a ball," the 63-year-old mother said Friday, choking back sobs. "Cooper loves baseball and he's a big Josh Hamilton fan. Had his jersey."
Hamilton, the reigning AL MVP, grabbed a foul ball in the second inning that ricocheted into left field and then he tossed it into the stands. Stone caught the ball but tumbled over the railing and plunged 20 feet onto concrete. The 39-year-old firefighter from Brownwood died at a hospital Thursday night.
Oakland reliever Brad Ziegler was in the visitor's bullpen in left-center field, not far from where Stone fell. When Stone was put on a stretcher, Ziegler said, the firefighter told his tenders that his son was "up there by himself" and asked them to check on the boy.
"He had his arms swinging. He talked and was conscious," Ziegler said. "We assumed he was OK. But when you find out he's not, it's just tough."
Suzann Stone said she was watching the game.
"Cooper told me where they were sitting so I could look for him on television," she said, adding that she was not watching when her son fell. "I missed it. I didn't see it."
Her youngest son, Chad Stone, called her late Thursday and broke the news to his parents. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office ruled Friday that Stone died from blunt force trauma caused by the fall.
He leaves Cooper and his 36-year-old wife, Jenny Stone.
"It's a very, very sad day for the Texas Rangers organization," team President Nolan Ryan said. "We're about making memories, family entertainment. Last night, we had a father and son at the game and had a very tragic incident."
Ryan said he spoke with Jenny Stone by phone Friday morning.
"She's very concerned about her son and the impact this is having on him rightly so," he said.
Ryan described Hamilton as being "very distraught over this, as the entire team is."
Shannon Stone was a firefighter with the Brownwood Fire Department for 18 years. In 2007, he and another firefighter ran into a smoke-filled home in nearby Bangs to rescue a woman in her 70s, according to story in the Brownwood Bulletin newspaper.
Stone and another firefighter received a distinguished service award from the department for bravery and dedication. He told the paper he was only doing what any other firefighter would have. He just happened to be "in the right place at the right time."
Her son, said Suzann Stone, was fun-loving and enjoyed being a father and a husband. For as long as she can remember he wanted to be a firefighter.
She and her husband "laughingly said Shannon said `fire truck' before he said `mommy' or `daddy,"' Suzann Stone said from her home in Cleburne, about 115 miles northeast of Brownwood.
Stone would do all he could to make as many of Cooper's T-ball games even when he was on duty at the fire station, Suzann Stone said. He was a "wonderful son, father and person," she said.
"I always told him if he wasn't my son I would want him as my best friend," she said. "He was so good, so caring of everybody."