Sep 30, 2011, 11:43 PM EDT
6-year-old Cooper Stone, the son of the firefighter who died falling out of the stands at Rangers Ballpark on July 7, threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Friday’s ALDS Game 1 against the Rays.
It was Stone’s first trip back to park since he attended the game at which his father, Shannon, died. Wearing a Josh Hamilton jersey, Cooper got to throw the pitch to his favorite player crouched about halfway to home plate and threw a perfect strike.
“They have turned a difficult return to The Ballpark into a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Cooper,” widow Jenny Stone said in a statement issued by the team. “Nothing could be more exciting for a boy than throwing out the first pitch to his favorite player. We are glad and grateful to be here to see the Rangers start their march to the World Series.”
Hamilton was the player who tossed the ball into stands when Shannon Stone was killed. He got to meet both Cooper and Jenny for the first time today.
“The Lord gave me words at the right time,” he said. “I’m not good with speeches. Not good with knowing what I’m going to say before. Because I rehearse it too much and it don’t sound genuine. So I just kind of let it happen. It worked out good. … You could tell she was really emotional about coming back to the park. The little one, he’s young enough where he understands but at the same time it’s not as emotional for him as it is mom.”
The Rangers are erecting a statue of Shannon and Cooper that is set to be revealed next season.