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Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Updated: July 7, 3:30 PM ET
Fan hurt after fall from second deck

By Richard Durrett
ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A male fan fell off the club level in section 235 and onto the lower deck during Tuesday's Texas Rangers game against the Cleveland Indians. He was stabilized, responsive and moving his extremities as he was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, according to team spokesman John Blake.

The man, identified by the Rangers on Wednesday as Tyler Morris, fell from the club level at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, hit the railing on the suite level and then landed in the lower deck down the first-base line. The drop is about 30 feet. Four other fans were injured and treated by paramedics at the stadium.

Rangers president Nolan Ryan visited with some of the injured fans and said he saw the fall out of his peripheral vision. He said the fan fell on a group of people, including a young boy who had a contusion on his face.

"You are concerned for the individual that it happened to and the people that may have been hurt by the fall," Ryan said. "I was very proud of the job our emergency people did. They got right on it and stabilized him. The people that he fell on, I went up and saw them and they were fine. I think we're very fortunate that it wasn't worse than it is."

The fan fell after Nelson Cruz hit a foul ball down the right-field line in the bottom of the fifth with the score 3-1 in favor of Texas. The man attempted to catch the ball and tumbled over the railing. The event left the ballpark silent, and play was suspended for 16 minutes as the field was cleared. Several players, including Indians shortstop Jason Donald and left fielder Trevor Crowe, were bowing their heads and appeared to be praying while others watched intently as paramedics were attending to the fan. He was taken off by a stretcher.

"I didn't see it, but I heard it," Donald said. "I heard the body hit and I heard the crowd reaction. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened. I was praying that he wouldn't die."

Ryan said he talked to the umpires about making sure the game was stopped as long as necessary to get the fan taken care of and on the way to the emergency room. Ryan said the television near his seats in the owner's box on the front row was out, so he didn't see any replays of the fall.

Michael Young, who was not starting for the first time all season, followed the foul ball as it headed toward the club level.

"It was a pretty disturbing visual," Young said. "I saw the whole thing. When he was about halfway down, I turned my head. I couldn't watch anymore. I'm glad to hear he's all right. I think guys on both sides were pretty shaken up."

Young said the players heard about an inning after the fall that the fan was stable and headed to the hospital.

"Sometimes these ballparks, it's an accident waiting to happen," Young said. "There are a lot of things in ballparks that have to be fixed and you'd like to see people be a little more proactive. We need higher rails so that doesn't happen. I've always said they should bring the nets behind home plate to the other side of the dugouts. Balls zip in there all the time and there are little kids that have seats right behind our dugout."

This is the second time a fan has fallen from an upper deck at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, but the first time during a game. On April 11, 1994, the day of the first home game of the park, Hollye Minter, a 28-year-old from Plano, Texas, was posing for a photograph after the home opener and fell from the railing in the right field "Home Run Porch." She landed on empty seats in the lower level and, according to reports, broke her right arm, two ribs and several bones in her neck.

Rangers officials said they raised the railings in the Home Run Porch after that game from 30½ inches to 46 inches in that area of the ballpark. They are lower in other areas. Ryan said they are up to code.

"The rails meet the specifications that are required," Ryan said. "We have warning signs at each aisle. It's one of those unfortunate things that happened. You can do everything you can to keep those things from happening, but sometimes they just do."

Signs around the ballpark warn spectators not to lean or sit on the railing. The railing within the stair aisles is also slightly higher all around the ballpark.

Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.