A Texas Rangers fan who leaned over a railing while trying to catch a ball tossed into the stands by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton has died, according to Nolan Ryan and the Dallas Morning News. The young man simply leaned a bit too far and was in an awkward position when he went over the railing. He didn't fall particularly far, but he fell into a very tight space between the railing and the outfield fence. He reportedly was taken from the stadium on a stretcher.
"We are deeply saddened to learn that the man who fell has passed away as a result of this tragic accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Rangers manager Ron Washington, meanwhile, talks about his reaction and how Hamilton appears to be doing:
It's always difficult when someone loses their life. Our prayers and thoughts go out to their family. It's sad. It's very sad."
On how Josh Hamilton is doing? "Josh is fine. Outward he's fine. I guess he's got to deal with it in his own way."
It has been almost exactly a year since another Rangers fan fell from the club level of the Ballpark in Arlington and down to the lower level. That fan, who survived, was lunging after a foul ball.
That this young man died while leaning for a ball is, obviously, a tragedy. The practice of intentionally tossing balls into the stands is as old as time, but one thing that's clear, from incidents like these and from many incidents of fan interference throughout baseball, is that when balls fly in the direction of fans, they often act instinctively. That's natural, or something like it, and sometimes it has awful results.