Shannon Stone's mom to Josh Hamilton: Keep tossing foul balls
Shannon Stone died in July trying to catch a foul ball tossed toward the stands by Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton. The mother of the 39-year-old firefighter later wrote a letter to Hamilton with an interesting request: Don't stop throwing foul balls to fans.
SuZann Stone recently told the New York Times Magazine: "I wrote to Josh Hamilton, and I said: 'Please, don’t stop throwing those balls. Because that’s so important. That’s why daddies bring their little boys to the ballgame is for memories like that. Please don’t stop.' "
The Stone family should know. Shannon Stone's father, Al, once caught a foul ball hit by Stone's childhood hero, Buddy Bell. It became a prized possession that Shannon Stone one day passed on to his own son, Cooper.
"Getting a ball is kind of like the holy grail of baseball," Al Stone said. "It’s one of the reasons you go, is hoping to get a souvenir of the game, a ball."
According to SuZann Stone, Stone and Cooper would always sit in the left-field section to be near the 6-year-old's favorite player, Hamilton.
"That’s why they sat there, hoping they could catch a ball," SuZann Stone said. "And Shannon was always one of these people that thought he was 10 feet tall and bulletproof. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do. I’m sure he thought, 'I can reach out there, I can get it, I can just stretch a little bit farther.' "
After the incident, Hamilton said he had been honoring a request for the next foul ball shouted by Stone from the stands. Both of Stones parents say they hope the outfielder continues to honor such requests.
"It was just an accident, you know?" Al Stone said.
-- Chuck Schilken
Photo: Shannon Stone and his son Cooper. Credit: YouTube