21 Fans Have Died in Falls at Baseball Stadiums - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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21 Fans Have Died in Falls at Baseball Stadiums



    An author says bigger, taller ballparks may be one factor to blame for fans falling over railings. (Published Friday, July 8, 2011)

    Fewer than two dozen people have died in falls at baseball stadiums since professional U.S. teams began to build mega-venues.

    Shannon Stone, a Brownwood firefighter, died Thursday night after falling from the left-field bleachers.

    Texas Rangers officials say four fans have fallen from bleachers in the stadium's history, but Thursday's fatal fall is the first death.

    "There's not a lot that can be done to prevent these injuries," said David Weeks, an associate professor and librarian at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. "To prevent a fall from the upper deck, you could install railings 10 feet high, but what's that going to do to fans watching the game?"

    Weeks, co-author of "Death at the Ballpark," said major league teams began to build steeper, larger stadiums in the 1960s.

    "They're building bigger stadiums, all-concrete, trying to pack more seats into the stadium by going taller," Weeks said.

    Since then, there have been 21 deadly falls at U.S. baseball stadiums.

    "Some have been suicides," Weeks said. "The majority of incidents where people have fallen to their deaths at baseball games have included alcohol."

    Alcohol was not involved in Stone's death. Witnesses and Stone's family said he was not drinking before the fall.

    One year and one day before Thursday's deadly fall, another fireman fell from the stands at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in a different section.

    Tyler Morris said the fall was an accident and said he did not blame the Rangers or the stadium.

    Rangers officials say they plan to make no changes to the stadium but will continue to study the issue.

    Weeks said fans, particularly families, should realize there is risk in sitting in the stands -- from baseballs.

    "There are many more injuries involving fans hit by fly balls, but only one reported death," he said.