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Firefighter's Son Tossed First Pitch to Hamilton

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Texas Rangers and thousands of fans paused for a moment of silence in honor of Shannon Stone, a fan who fell and died at the ballpark. (Published Saturday, Jul 9, 2011)

    Game 1 of the ALDS had an emotional ceremonial first pitch at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Friday.

    The Rangers asked 6-year-old Cooper Stone to toss out the first pitch to outfielder Josh Hamilton, his favorite player.

    Players, Fans Pay Respect to Stone

    [DFW] Players, Fans Pay Respect to Stone
    The Texas Rangers and thousands of fans paused for a moment of silence in honor of Shannon Stone, a fan who fell and died at the ballpark. (Published Saturday, Jul 9, 2011)

    Stone's father, Shannon, was the  39-year-old Brownood firefighter who died after trying to catch a ball for his son at the ballpark earlier this season. This was Cooper's first trip back to the ballpark.

    "They hugged," Rangers fan Peggy Fields said. "It was just a very sweet moment, but it was sad, too."

    Friends, Family Pay Respects to Stone

    [DFW] Friends, Family Pay Respects to Stone
    Friends and family of fallen firefighter Shannon Stone pay their respects in Brownwood. (Published Sunday, Jul 10, 2011)

    Stone, in a Rangers jersey with Hamilton's No. 32 and "Cooper" between the shoulders, threw to Hamilton, who was midway between the pitcher's mound and home plate.

    His throw was followed by a standing ovation as fans wiped tears from their eyes as Hamilton hugged Stone and chatted with his mother on the field.

    Hundreds Gather to Remember Shannon Stone

    [DFW] Hundreds Gather to Remember Shannon Stone
    Nearly 1,000 friends, family and well-wishers also attended a private memorial, where witnesses say Stone was remembered fondly for his kindness, love of baseball and skill as both a firefighter and a loving dad. (Published Monday, Jul 11, 2011)

    "I just asked her if they were believers in Christ, and she said they were. I said, 'Well, we know where your husband is right now. Make sure that the little one knows who his daddy was and what he stood for,"' Hamilton said.

    Jenny Stone appeared to thank Hamilton. They hugged again, and then Hamilton gave Cooper another hug, too. The reigning AL MVP started heading to the dugout, only to realize he still had the ball. So he reached back and gave it to Cooper.

    On July 7, Shannon Stone tried to catch a ball, but tumbled over the railing and plunged 20 feet on concrete.

    Hamilton had grabbed a foul ball that ricocheted into left field and tossed it into the stands like he has done dozens, if not hundreds, of times before.

    "The first person I saw was the dad and the boy," Hamilton said. "And it looked like somebody who would love to have a baseball."

    Shannon Stone's mother said her son had taken her grandson to the ballpark for the first time and had stopped to get him a glove on the way in hopes of catching a foul ball.

    "He was just doing what any dad would do, reaching for that ball for his little boy," she said.

    Jenny Stone, Cooper's mother thanked Nolan Ryan and the Rangers in a statement after the first pitch.

    "They have turned a difficult return to The Ballpark into an once-in-a-lifetime experience for Cooper," she said. "Nothing could be more exciting for a boy than throwing out the first pitch to his favorite player. We are glad and grateful to be here to see the Rangers start their march to the World Series."

    The Rangers said in August that they will cast a bronze statue to honor Shannon Stone and his little boy. The statue is expected to be outside of the home plate gate by the start of next season.

    NBC 5's Ashanti Blaize and Associated Press sports writer Jaime Aron contributed to this report.