While it's uncertain what impact the Texas Rangers' decision to raise railings in front of seating at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to a uniform height of 42 inches will have on future stadium construction/renovation, building codes or even fan safety, the team announced Monday yet another project at its home venue - the commissioning of a bronze statue honoring Shannon Stone, the 39-year-old firefighter who fell from the stands and died reaching for a baseball while attending a game with his son in July.
Like the railing renovation itself, the life-size statue of Stone and six-year-old Cooper is expected to be completed by next season. The statue will likely be located outside the ballpark's gate behind home plate.
Statues honoring sports figures living and dead have become part of the game-day experience at an increasing number of stadiums and arenas, including at the college level, but rarely is a memorial constructed for the common man. Visitors to Milwaukee's Miller Park have likely looked upon not only representations of Hall of Fame players Henry Aaron and Robin Yount and former Brewers owner and current Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, but also Workers Monument, dedicated to the 5,000-plus construction workers who helped build the park. Oddly, though, the three individuals depicted in the statue titled "Teamwork" bear no likeness to the three workers - Jeffrey Wischer, William De Grave and Jerome Starr - who lost their lives in the construction process.
According to the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, the statue in Arlington is tentatively titled "Rangers Fans." "I got to thinking about what we as an organization could do, and I felt like this was only appropriate," Rangers president Nolan Ryan said. "I want fans, when they come in, to see it and remember Shannon and Cooper, and also the fact that they represent what I think we're about. That's making memories for our fans."
"Shannon and Cooper had a special relationship, and we are touched and grateful that it will be memorialized at one of their favorite places," said Stone's wife, Jenny, in a statement. "Our hope is that this statue will not be a symbol of our family tragedy but rather a reminder of the importance of a family's love - love of each other, love of spending time together and love of the game."