The mother of a Texas firefighter who died reaching to snag a baseball thrown by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton this past summer said Wednesday she wants the star player to keep tossing souvenirs into the stands.
SuZann Stone said that taking home a game ball is a special memory. Her plea to Hamilton was in a letter sent not long after 39-year-old Shannon Stone died when he tumbled over a railing and plunged 20 feet onto concrete July 7 during a game at Rangers Ballpark.
Shannon Stone was trying to catch the ball for his 6-year-old son, Cooper, who witnessed the incident.
The late firefighter's mother says it would be a shame for Hamilton to quit tossing balls to fans.
"I just didn't want him to stop,'' SuZann Stone said. "How sad that would be because that's what little boys and their daddies go for. This was just an accident.''
The mother's letter to Hamilton was first reported in the New York Times Magazine.
Rangers spokesman John Blake said attempts were being made to reach Hamilton for comment.
Shannon Stone had been a firefighter in Brownwood for 18 years. He and Cooper had gone to the game with the intent of getting a souvenir ball. They even stopped on the way to the game to buy a new glove for Cooper.
SuZann Stone was watching the game on television that night, scanning the stands where Cooper had told her they would be sitting. She didn't see the fall and learned of her son's death from his brother.
SuZann Stone knows how special it is to get a ball at a Rangers game. When Shannon Stone was about 12 or 13, she and her husband took him to a Rangers game where he got to watch his favorite player - third baseman Buddy Bell.
"That was Shannon's hero at the time,'' she said.
Bell hit a foul ball that looked like it wouldn't be anywhere close to where the family was sitting. But the wind caught it and it came down nearby where the Stones were sitting. Getting that souvenir meant the world to her son, SuZann Stone said, coming from his favorite player.
She said she hasn't heard back from Hamilton since writing to him.
"Really, I didn't expect that I would. I wanted him to let him know our heartfelt sorrow for him,'' she said. "No way did we feel he was responsible for the accident. He was doing a really nice thing and it just didn't turn out right.''
Cooper is doing as well as can be expected, his grandmother said. He and his mother, Jenny Stone, continue to get "phenomenal'' support from Brownwood residents and firefighters.
"We have good days and we have bad days but through the holidays it's been pretty hard,'' SuZann Stone said.
The family's faith helps lessen the pain of her son's death, she said.
"We will see him again,'' SuZann Stone said. "Until that time it just leaves a pretty big void in our lives.''