Texas Rangers fans are furious after a photo circulating on social media shows a memorial for a fallen Rangers fan covered in empty beer cans and bottles.
The photo shows trash placed on a statue at Globe Life Park in Arlington that memorializes Brownwood firefighter Shannon Stone, who died at the ballpark in 2011.
Texas Rangers season ticket holder Ed Lambert says he has a lot of pride for his team - but he's not so proud of a picture from Opening Day that has been grabbing headlines.
"There's no sense in that," said Lambert. "It's ridiculous."
Snapped and tweeted out by a fan at the game, it shows the "Rangers Fans" statue outside the Home Plate gate at Globe Life Park covered with empty bottles and other trash. The statue is a memorial to Shannon Stone, a firefighter and fan who fell to his death at the ballpark in 2011.
Stone died after he fell from the stands trying to catch a ball for his 6-year-old son, Cooper, at a Rangers game. The franchise honored Stone and his son with the statue in April 2012.
Opening day attendees left empty beer cans and bottles on the statue of the fallen fan, which stands outside the home-plate gate of Globe Life Park.
"it's such a beautiful ballpark," said Jesse Bradley, a Rangers fan visiting from Odessa. "it's really sad that people would do that."
The Texas Rangers issued the following statement after the photo circulated social media channels after the Opening Day loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.
"The Rangers certainly regret and apologize for the trash that accumulated on the Rangers Fans statue at the home plate gate this afternoon. With thousands of opening day fans, many of whom had been tailgating, entering the park in the 30 minutes before game time, large amounts of cans, bottles, and other items that are prohibited in the park, accumulated at all entrances. Numerous clean up calls came into the maintenance department in this period, and the club utilized a large number of employees to continually remove the vast amount of trash that was accumulating. The debris on the statue was removed in a timely manner but it should not have been allowed to be placed there in the first place. The Rangers Fans statue is a cherished component of Globe Life Park in Arlington and the club will make certain this situation does not occur in the future."
During the dedication of the statue in April of 2012, Nolan Ryan -- who was President of the team at the time -- spoke about what the statue represents.
"This bronze represents so many things that are good about baseball -- competition, happiness, memories -- and I think Shannon embodied what we as an organization hope for in our fans," Ryan said.
"It was the fans fault and they still took the blame," said Bradley. "That's awesome of the Rangers. But that's not the Rangers fault at all."
"That's not their employees' job," said Lambert.
NBC 5 reached out to the Rangers Tuesday to see if there were any specific steps they might take to try to prevent this from happening in the future. In an email, a team spokesperson said:
"We will certainly take steps to prevent this from occurring again, and it was really caused by the vast amount of tailgating in the parking lots that takes place on Opening Day. As we said [in our statement], we were constantly having our personnel remove cans, bottles and other trash as customers entered the park at all gates. We don't have that situation in anywhere close to this magnitude on any other day of the season. But that being said, we need to be much more diligent in keeping any trash away from [the statue] at all times."
Lambert and others ultimately hope fans will step up and help the Rangers prevent more incidents like this from happening.