All I could think about after last night's tragedy was my nearly 3-year-old son Owen.
Even at such a young age, he's latched onto baseball as a wonderful world where you get to hit a ball, make great catches and run the bases, even though he still runs the wrong direction after every swing of his bat.
Honestly, I didn't do much to introduce my son to the game. But when your dad has a job covering the Texas Rangers, I guess you're automatically exposed. Owen is still walking around the house singing "Happy Birthday" to Nelson Cruz, who celebrated a birthday last week. He jumps whenever he sees Ian Kinsler, Michael Young or Josh Hamilton. I can only imagine what it's going to be like in a few more years. I know I loved going to games with my father and getting an autograph from Dale Murphy (one my father helped me secure) was one of the biggest thrills of my young life.
So when a few fans in the left-field seats told me during last night's game that Shannon Stone's young boy, who we now know is 6 years old, watched his dad fall over that railing, I couldn't get my own son out of my mind. Imagine the thrill of catching a baseball for your son from a 2010 AL MVP no less. What could make that day any better?
Owen's favorite activity is having dad throw him a ball while he takes his tiny foam Rangers bat and swings as hard as he can. Surprisingly, he can hit most of the pitches I throw. He would stay out there all day if I'd keep tossing balls his way.
The toughest thing for me last night in all gathering all of that material was to see the quote from reliever Brad Ziegler, who was out in the visiting bullpen near that area of the park watching the paramedics work.
"He was saying, 'Please check on my son.'"
I checked on mine when I got home, even though it was after midnight. I gave him a hug and managed not to wake him. And when he got up, as always, he wanted to go outside and throw the ball.
I've been thinking about Shannon Stone's little boy all day today. I've also thought about his dad, especially after some of his firefighters told me what a great father he was and how much he loved hanging out with his son.
I've thought about Josh Hamilton, who was doing something nice (and something he does all the time) and making a family's day by giving them a baseball. He looked over to left field a few times for the rest of that inning and I imagine spent the whole game thinking about it, wondering what happened to Stone. Clearly, it was not Hamilton's fault. But, as Nolan Ryan said last night, Hamilton is "very distraught" over this and I think this is when his faith will help him.
With that in mind, I plan on giving Owen, my eight-month-old daugher Alice and my wife Kelly as many hugs as I can. And I'll make more time to toss that ball with Owen.