Texas Rangers baseball players filed out to stand by members of Shannon Stone’s family on Thursday afternoon at the Ballpark in Arlington’s Home Plate entrance for the unveiling of a statue depicting Stone and his son, Cooper.
Cleburne native Stone died in a freak accident last year during a game at the ballpark. Stone, 39, fell over the railing in left field and through a gap between the fence and the stands about 20 feet onto the concrete after reaching for a ball tossed into the stands by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton. Stone was at the game with Cooper, who watched as his father lost his balance and fell.
The statue unveiled Thursday, named “Rangers Fans,” is a full-size bronze depicting Stone and Cooper attending a game.
Bruce Greene, a nationally known western artist and sculptor, created the statue. Although the statue was the Rangers idea, Stone’s widow, Jenny, and Cooper offered input during it’s creation.
Stone’s parents, Al and SuZanne Stone, brothers and other family members attended Thursday’s ceremony.
“We’re tickled to death about it,” Al Stone said Thursday morning. “We thank the Rangers organization and everyone who had anything to do with it, and I’m very humbled by the fact they would do this for us and to honor Shannon’s memory.”
Cooper and Jenny, Al Stone said, are doing fine.
“Cooper’s a resilient kid,” Stone said. “I’m sure he still has his down times, but overall he’s doing great in everything.”
Cooper, 7, last September, stood on the pitcher’s mound to throw the ceremonial first pitch of the playoffs to Hamilton.
During Thursday’s ceremony, former baseball player Buddy Bell, who Shannon Stone caught a foul ball from when he was about Cooper’s age, presented Cooper with a jersey, bat and ball.
Al Stone on Thursday morning said he hopes the statue reminds people of Shannon’s love of the game.
“My hope is that the public remembers Shannon as a fan who loved the Rangers and not as someone whe fell out of the stands,” Stone said. “We don’t want [the statue] to be a reminder of the accident when people see it.”
Longtime Rangers radio announcer Eric Nadel read a statement from the Stone family during the ceremony in which they called the statue a symbol of the purpose of baseball as a game to be enjoyed with family and friends.
Stone family members also thanked the Rangers and the public for love of strangers across the world they’ve gained since the loss of Shannon.
Rangers President and CEO Nolan Ryan said the statue reminds him of so many things that are great about baseball including competition, happiness and memories, and it embodies the love of the game Shannon’s parents passed on to him and he in turn passed on to Cooper.
Greene thanked the Rangers and the Stone family for entrusting the statue’s creation to him.
“I felt the weight of the project,” Greene said, “but I was overjoyed to undertake it.”
The goal, Greene said, was to create an accurate portrait of Shannon and Cooper and at the same time portray families in general and capture their love of baseball.
Members of the Brownwood Fire Department, of which Shannon was a member, joined with Arlington firefighters to pay tribute.
Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck attended, joined by several city officials including the city police and fire chiefs. Former Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief also attended, as did about 100 family friends and well wishers.