Rangers to honor Shannon Stone

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Texas Rangers are planning on erecting a statue that will honor Shannon Stone, the Brownwood firefighter who died on July 7 from injuries suffered when he fell over a rail in left-center field at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

The statue, tentatively named "Rangers Fans," is slated for completion in time for the 2012 season. The full-size bronze statue will be located outside the home plate gate and depict Stone and his 6-year-old son Cooper, who was at the game with him that night.

"We feel that this statue will be a most fitting tribute," said Rangers CEO/president Nolan Ryan in a release. "It will not only serve to honor Mr. Stone's memory but also to recognize Rangers fans and baseball fans everywhere.

"I have discussed the project with (Stone's wife) Jenny Stone, and she and the Stone family will be involved in the design and creation of the statue."

The statue will be the third sculpture at the stadium, joining bronze statues of Ryan and Tom Vandergriff, which were dedicated in 1997 and are located in the Vandergriff Plaza in center field.

Ryan said it was his idea to erect the statue and he got approval from co-chairman of the board Ray Davis and Bob Simpson.

"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."

Ryan said he hopes it's completed by Opening Day 2012.

"We continue to be appreciative of Nolan Ryan and the Texas Rangers as we deal with the loss of Shannon," said Jenny Stone in a statement. "Shannon and Cooper had a special relationship, and we are touched and grateful that it will be memorialized at one of their favorite places.

"Our hope is that this statue will not be a symbol of our family tragedy but rather a reminder of the importance of a family's love -- love of each other, love of spending time together, and love of the game."

Stone died following a fall from about 20 feet over the left-center field rail. He reached over to grab a foul ball flipped to him from the outfield by Josh Hamilton. The Rangers have announced plans to extend the height of all the rails at the ballpark to 42 inches, an increase of as much as 12 inches in certain areas. The club is currently working with engineers on the design phase and hope to begin to implement the new rails either before this season is over or during the offseason.

Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.