This month marks the five year anniversary of tragic event that still stays with me; the death of Shannon Stone. When it happened, I was new to Texas and new to fatherhood. I didn’t know him at all. The only things I knew about him were what the media reported. He was a veteran firefighter and a loving husband and father. He and I had two things in common, though, apparently. We both loved baseball and we both loved fatherhood, and as a new dad hearing the story, it got to me.
I know that tragedy strikes every day, and that every day children lose fathers to terrible situations such as war, car accidents, heart attacks, violence, etc. It’s all terrible. However, there’s something so inherently backward about a kid losing his father because his father tried to catch a baseball for him at a baseball game. I felt bad for him, as in his last moments he seemed to know he was seriously injured and told those around him to “please check on my son.” I felt bad for his son, who had to witness the entire thing. I felt bad for his wife, family, friends, and coworkers. I felt bad for Josh Hamilton, who meant to bring Shannon and his son joy by throwing them the ball, and instead has to live with his unintentional role in the tragedy.
When it was announced that the Rangers planned to build a statue dedicated to Shannon and Cooper Stone, my first reaction was an uneasy feeling. However, when I learned how much the family seemed to support the idea, it had my support too. When the statue was done, I saw pictures of it and decided that I wanted to take a picture of my son and I at the statue the next time we are at a game. We got that opportunity the following season. We were definitely not the only father/child duo to take this picture either.
As with all of these tragedies, the takeaways are similar. We never know when it’s our time, so we must make the most of the time we have. And as fathers, we are infinitely privileged to have the role we do with our kids. This is yet another example of why we must never take this for granted.