LUBBOCK, Texas - The mother of a Texas firefighter who died reaching to snag a baseball thrown by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton this past summer said yesterday she wants the star player to keep tossing souvenirs into the stands.
SuZann Stone said that taking home a game ball is a special memory. Her plea to Hamilton was in a letter sent not long after 39-year-old Shannon Stone died when he tumbled over a railing and plunged 20 feet onto concrete July 7 during a game at Rangers Ballpark. Stone was trying to catch the ball for his 6-year-old son, Cooper. The late firefighter's mother says it would be a shame for Hamilton to quit tossing balls to fans.
"I just didn't want him to stop," SuZann Stone said. "How sad that would be because that's what little boys and their daddies go for. This was just an accident."
The mother's letter to Hamilton was first reported in the New York Times Magazine.
SuZann Stone was watching the game on television that night, scanning the stands where Cooper had told her they would be sitting. She didn't see the fall.
She knows how special it is to get a ball. When Shannon Stone was about 12 or 13, she and her husband took him to a Rangers game where he got to watch his favorite player - third baseman Buddy Bell. "That was Shannon's hero at the time," she said.
Bell hit a foul ball that looked like it wouldn't be anywhere close to where the family was sitting. But the wind caught it and it came down nearby where the Stones were sitting. Getting that souvenir meant the world to her son, SuZann Stone said, coming from his favorite player.
She said she hasn't heard back from Hamilton since writing to him. "Really, I didn't expect that I would. I wanted him to let him know our heartfelt sorrow for him," she said.