The Texas Rangers and an Awkward Memorial
There’s this telephone pole I pass on my way to work. It’s distinct from the hundreds of other telephone poles along my route because it’s adorned with flowers, wreaths, banners and cards. They are memorials and tokens left to remember the guy who died at that very spot when he drove way too fast, lost control of his car and crashed into that pole.
I hate seeing that memorial. I hate driving past it every day and being forced to think “Oh yea, that guy died over here. ” I’m not a callous person. In fact, I hate seeing it because I’m not callous. A telephone decked out in funeral flowers for a person you didn’t know but are made to think about every single day is a sad, sad monument. Especially when you consider the circumstances of his death. A fresh banner - one that says “Happy birthday” - has been added to the accumulated tokens and the whole thing comes off as a tacky sort of testament to someone’s life and death.
I’m guessing the Texas Rangers don’t feel the way I do about memorials of that sort, because they are erecting a statue to honor Shannon Stone, the man who fell to his death at Arlington Stadium when he fell over a railing in an attempt to catch a ball. Stone’s six year old son witnessed his father’s fall. The statue will stand at the home plate gate and depict Stone and his son watching a game.
From everything I’ve read about him, it seems like Stone was a really nice guy, a good husband and father and friend. So it’s with nothing against the man or how he died when I say that this is a terrible, horrible idea.
“Over a period of time after the accident, I got to thinking about what we as an organization could do and I thought it was appropriate,” Ryan said. “I think we want to have a memorial for Shannon Stone and I want the fans when they come in to see it and remember Shannon and Cooper and the fact that they represent what I think we’re about and that’s making memories for our fans and family.” Because the first thing you want to see when walking into the gate is a reminder of Stone’s death. Nothing says “baseball memories” like loss, heartache and the traumatic experience of a six year old. Can you imagine one of Stone’s friends walking into the ballpark and seeing some smiling stranger with a beer taking a picture in front of the statue of his dead buddy? Awkward.
I’m failing to see how this is an appropriate thing for the team to do to commemorate this man’s life or his love of baseball. The team was kind enough to donate money to the family and set up a donation account for Stone’s son. And really, that’s enough.
Maybe this is just the Rangers organization’s way of saying “This is a not so subtle reminder to be careful.” Even if that’s the ulterior motive of the statue, it still comes off as tacky as a roadside memorial to me. Maybe even tackier.