ARLINGTON -- A male fan fell from the second-deck club level and into the lower bowl at the Ballpark in Arlington in the fifth inning of the Rangers' 12-1 win over the Indians on Tuesday. The incident delayed the game 16 minutes as ballpark personnel tended to him and four other injured fans.The fan flipped over the railing before landing on his back in section 35, which is roughly a 30-foot drop. He was conscious and able to move all of his extremities. After being stabilized, he was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. "He's over at the emergency room having tests done," Rangers president Nolan Ryan said. "The preliminary indications are that it could have been a lot worse. We really don't know at this point in time. I think that obviously he'll remain in the hospital for observation. We're hopeful that what injuries he has are minimal." The man was sitting in the front row of Section 235 and was reaching for a foul ball that had sailed over his head and caromed back toward the field. According to a witness, the man turned his back to the field, reached over his head for the foul ball and lost his balance. Four other fans were treated for minor injuries related to the fall, but none was taken to the hospital. "The people that were below him, one little boy had a contusion to his face," Ryan said. "A couple that he landed on, I saw them, they were fine. I think we were very fortunate that it wasn't worse than it is." After the foul ball, which came off the bat of Nelson Cruz, a hush fell over the ballpark as Indians players took knees and Rangers players sat silent from the dugout. That's when umpire crew chief Tim Tschida halted the game. "The discussion was we were going to wait as long as we possibly needed to have him taken care of and get him on the way to the emergency room," Ryan said of his conversation with Tschida. "And then take care of any other injuries we had. Once that was taken care of, we were going to resume the game." Indians manager Manny Acta said that play would only be halted should players be too distraught to play. "I think what Tim said was if anybody was so affected emotionally by seeing it [that was a possibility]," Acta said. "But I don't think that was going to be the case, unless something worse happened. I was just glad the guy is fine." Home-plate umpire Chris Guccione was so distraught that he placed his hands over his head and walked in the opposite direction, toward the Indians' dugout on the third-base side. Most Rangers players didn't see the fall due to being in the dugout in front of where the fall took place. "I didn't see it. Thank God I didn't," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I just hope everything is well." Indians players, who were facing the incident, were visibly shaken by the fall. "Crazy. I looked up and saw him start to come down," left fielder Trevor Crowe said. "He hit the luxury box, and then came down. It was the one of the scariest things I've ever seen. All I could think there was to start praying. It looked like he had nothing to brace his fall." Added shortstop Jason Donald: "I heard the crowd react, and then I was just praying the whole time. ... It was just really scary and puts things in perspective." Despite not seeing it, Donald says it shook him enough that he couldn't immediately refocus on the game.
"It took me a good inning or two to get back to just playing baseball again," Donald said. "Something like that is everybody's worst fear ... Thank God I didn't see it. I don't ever want to see it."Ryan noted that the fan's fall was a freak accident and in no way was a result of faulty railing. "Rails meet specifications that are required. We have warning signs on each aisle," Ryan said. "This was just one unfortunate thing that happened. You can do everything you can to try and keep this thing from happening, but sometimes they just do."
Chris Cox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.