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Another Upper Deck Accident Underscores Safety Debate

Paul Steinbach

The death last week of Shannon Stone, a Texas firefighter who fell 20 feet in pursuit of a souvenir baseball, brought solemn urgency to other sports venues. The near tragedy that took place last night in Phoenix during the MLB All Star Game Home Run Derby adds a new facet to the debate - countertops that often abut railings in a stadium's specialty seating and socializing areas.

fanfall.jpgfanfall.jpgKeith Carmickle stood on an upper deck countertop at Chase Field and missed catching a home run ball by two feet, but the attempt sent him tumbling forward toward a likely headfirst dive onto a concrete pool deck some 20 feet below (more photos). A brother and a friend grabbed Carmickle by the limbs and eventually pulled him back to safety. Carmickle later admitted that while dangling momentarily from the wrong side of the railing he thought to himself, "I've lived a good life." His accident happened on the same day memorial services were held for Stone.

The introspection didn't last long. Once Carmickle was back on his feet, there were high fives all around. He put his arm around a stadium security official, who reportedly told Carmickle to be careful. Carmickle later told reporters, "We caught three balls and I told the guys I was going to go for the cycle. Dude, they were really holding onto me."

The cavalier attitudes of Carmickle, and notably Chase Field security, led Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports' Hardball Talk to write, "Despite his idiocy, he (a) escaped this dangerous situation of his own making unscathed; and (b) was allowed to stay at the Derby by security. Both of these factors have been added to the 'evidence that there is no God and/or that He is not just and fair' side of the big ledger I keep on my desk and in which I tally the wonder and folly of Humanity as I encounter it."

Will such cavalier attitudes toward stadium safety and security continue to haunt Major League Baseball, or will building codes pertaining to railing heights and countertop proximity be reexamined? With two incidents - one fatal, one potentially so - occuring five days apart, let's hope we're not left hanging much longer.

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