ARLINGTON, Texas -- A male fan has died after falling over the outfield railing and landing on the concrete behind the out-of-town scoreboard at the Rangers Ballpark during the second inning of Thursday's game between the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics.
"We are deeply saddened to learn that the man who fell has passed away as a result of this tragic accident," Rangers president/CEO Nolan Ryan said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
The Rangers closed the clubhouse to the media after their 6-0 win. They haven't released the name of the fan because they aren't sure if all the family members have been notified.
The left-field wall is 14 feet high and the fan went over the railing, which is a few feet higher, for an approximately 20-foot drop.
The fan, wearing a blue Rangers cap and white Rangers shirt, was seated in the front row and, according to others seated near him, was yelling at Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton for a foul ball that was hit by Conor Jackson and landed on the field. Hamilton flipped the ball toward the fan and the fan leaned over, caught it and toppled over in the gap between the railing and the back of the scoreboard on the left-field fence.
After the game, the team, including Hamilton, was told what happened.
"I think as any of us would be, Josh is very distraught over this as the entire team is," Ryan said. Ryan added that the Rangers are "very heavy-hearted about this."
Rangers manager Ron Washington said: "Josh is fine -- outwards he's fine. I guess he's got to deal with it in his own way."
Washington said he will decide on Friday whether Hamilton needs a day off after what happened on Thursday night.
"I tried to grab him, but I couldn't," said Ronnie Hargis, a 50-year-old from Hawley, Texas, who was sitting beside the falling fan. "I tried to slow him down a little bit. He went straight down."
Hargis said he was chatting with the fan earlier in the game and that he was a firefighter from Brownwood, but didn't know his name.
Several fans, including Safawna Dunn, said paramedics quickly got to the fan and took him off in a stretcher.
"He was conscious," Dunn said.
The Rangers had released a statement saying the man was taken to John Peter Hospital.
The incident comes one year and one day after a fan fell from the club level and landed in the lower deck, a 30-foot drop. That man, Tyler Morris, was taken to a local hospital after the game was stopped for 16 minutes to get him out of the stadium. Morris, coincidentally a firefighter as well, suffered a fractured skull and sprained ankle and went home two days after his fall.
Thursday's fall is the third by a fan over one of the railings. The first was April 11, 1994, after the Rangers' first home game in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Hollye Minter, a 28-year-old from Plano, Texas, posed for a photograph and fell from a railing in right field. She landed on empty seats and, according to various reports, broke her arm, two ribs and a few bones in her neck.
Club officials said the railings were raised after that game from 30.5 inches to 46 inches in the upper and lower areas of the park.
On Thursday night, Ryan, in response to a question about whether the Rangers would assess the safety of the railings, said the Rangers were "not prepared to speak about anything further than the accident and the tragedy tonight."