Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers were devastated Thursday night after a fan fell from the stands trying to grab a ball tossed by the All-Star center fielder and later died.
"It's sad, it's very sad," Rangers manager Ron Washington said following a 6-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
A man attending the game with his young son fell about 20 feet to the ground, the Rangers and Arlington fire officials said.
The accident occurred in the second inning after Oakland's Conor Jackson hit a foul ball that ricocheted into left field. Hamilton retrieved the ball and tossed it into the stands. Replays on Oakland's television broadcast show the man reaching for the ball and apparently catching it before tumbling over the rail.
"We spoke to the ballclub, they understood what has happened and we spoke to Josh," team president Nolan Ryan said. "I think as any of us would be, Josh is very distraught over this, as the entire team is."
The Rangers clubhouse was closed to reporters after the game.
Hamilton, the reigning AL MVP, drove in four runs and was selected earlier this week to start his fourth consecutive All-Star game next week. Washington said he would wait before determining if Hamilton would play against the A's on Friday night.
"I think we'll deal with that tomorrow when he gets here, to see how he feels," Washington said.
A very somber Ryan called it a tragic accident.
"As an organization, and as our team members and our staff, we're very heavy-hearted about this," Ryan said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family."
TV replays showed the man, whom the Rangers and fire officials didn't identify, falling head-first and landing behind a 14-foot-high wall supporting a video board for replays and scores. The area where he fell is out of sight from the field.
"When you think you've had a bad day, something like that puts things in perspective. It's just devastating," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "I don't even know what to say. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family."
The visitor's bullpen at the stadium is in left-center field. Athletics reliever Brad Ziegler was in tears after the game when he found out the man had died.
"They had him on a stretcher. He said, 'Please check on my son. My son was up there by himself.' The people who carried him out reassured him. 'Sir, we'll get your son, we'll make sure he's OK,"' Ziegler said. "He had his arms swinging. He talked and was conscious. We assumed he was OK. But when you find out he's not, it's just tough."
There was an audible gasp in the stands when the man tumbled over the rail, eerily similar to an accident last July when a man fell about 30 feet from the second-deck of seats down the right-field line while trying to catch a foul ball. That fan, Tyler Morris, suffered a fractured skull and sprained ankle.
It is the second fatal fall at a MLB ballpark this season. In May, a 27-year-old man died after he fell about 20 feet and struck his head on concrete during a Colorado Rockies game.
Derek Holland (7-4) rebounded from his shortest outing ever with a four-hitter for his third career shutout. He struck out seven and walked two while allowing only four singles. The left-hander had allowed five runs and four hits while getting only two outs in his previous start Saturday night against Florida.
"Obviously, he was outstanding," Washington said. "He came out and pounded the strike zone from the very first pitch. He never looked back and stayed focus."
Hamilton drove in a run in each of his first four at-bats, putting Texas ahead to stay with an RBI groundout in the first. The outfielder added a run-scoring single in the third before two sacrifice fly balls after that.
This was the makeup of a May 11 game that was rained out after Texas built a 7-0 lead through four innings.
Rich Harden (1-1) gave up five runs and eight hits over five innings in his second start of the season for the A's.
"[The game] didn't really matter after what happened," said Harden, who was with Texas last season. "It's horrible. You try to refocus. You have a job to do. But it's hard to ignore that."
Before the Rangers batted in the second, manager Washington spoke briefly with one of the umpires. Michael Young, who was leading off the inning, could be seen talking to A's catcher Kurt Suzuki and pointing toward the area where the previous accident happened.
Holland struck out four of the first six batters he faced, getting all three outs in the first on strikes.
After Suzuki's single in the fifth, Holland retired 10 consecutive batters without a ball leaving the infield before giving up a pair of singles and a walk in the ninth.
It was the 10th time this season that Oakland was held scoreless.
Holland threw a five-hit shutout at Cleveland on June 4. He was 1-3 in his five starts until Thursday night.
Mitch Moreland had a grand slam wiped out when the May 11 game was rained out and none of the stats counted.
Moreland had a double and a single in the makeup. He led off the Texas fourth with his double and scored on a single by Mike Napoli that made it 3-0.
Notes: Young led off the fifth with his eighth homer. That was also his 959th career run, breaking his tie with Rafael Palmeiro for the most in the Washington/Texas franchise history. Young was already the team's career leader in games played, hits, doubles and triples. ... Oakland is 5-10 since a season-high six-game winning streak. ... Harden, who pitched with Texas last season, is 5-3 against the Rangers.