Rangers fan who fell from second level is a firefighter


by Jason Whitely and Craig Civale / WFAA , Associated Press


Posted on July 7, 2010 at 2:52 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 7 at 4:41 PM

ARLINGTON, Texas – A baseball fan who tumbled from the second deck of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington while reaching for a foul ball Tuesday night has been identified as a North Texas firefighter.

Tyler Morris, 25, was still hospitalized Wednesday in fair condition, a hospital spokesperson told The Dallas Morning News.

Kevin Conner, a friend of Morris’ who was with him at the game, said the firefighter suffered a head injury and a sprained ankle, but no internal injuries.

Conner said Morris was joking with friends and family in the hospital Wednesday and is expected to be soon.

Hall-of-Fame pitcher and Rangers President Nolan Ryan also paid a visit to Morris Wednesday, bringing him the foul ball from the game.

Morris, who works for the Lake Cities Fire Department near Dallas, was at the Rangers-Indians game with a group of friends when he fell.

It happened in the bottom of the fifth inning when Nelson Cruz hit a foul ball into the first row of the Club Level seats along the first base line.

Morris tried to snag the ball but lost his balance and tumbled to the field deck about 30 feet below.

Conner said Morris grabbed the railing briefly as he went over, and he didn’t fall on his head.

Video of the fall wasn’t broadcast, but gasps from the crowd, umpires and announcers could be heard after it happened.

"It’s a tough scene at the ballpark right now," one TV announcer said in the moments after Morris fell.

One of the first persons to come to Morris’ aid was Derek Dilday, an off-duty paramedic.

"He was breathing hard; probably the wind got knocked out of him... No bleeding," Dilday said. "He was trying to move his neck, but I was trying to hold his neck, so movement is good and he seemed OK."

Emergency personnel rushed Morris away on a gurney around 8:35 p.m., and he was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

Four other people were hurt when Morris fell, but they were all treated at the ballpark.

One of the injured – a boy – suffered a bruise to his face, team officials said.

The game was stopped for 16 minutes, and several players on the field looked shaken. The Rangers won 12-1.

"It was amazing; it was unbelievable, it really was," Dilday said.

Cruz wasn’t available after the game. Cleveland pitcher Justin Masterson said he saw the fall and thought it might have affected some of the players.

"I’m sure in some way it did," he said. "It’s not something you see at the ballpark, and you never want to again."

Indians manager Manny Acta said he didn’t think the fall affected the outcome of the game, but admitted that it was tough to watch.

"I think the guys were pretty relieved when we got news that the guy was conscious and he was OK," Acta said. "I think everybody went back to normal when we got news that he was conscious because we were anticipating something worse. A fatality could have happened there, and you don’t want to be a witness to it."

Morris wasn’t the first fan to fall from one of the ballpark’s upper decks.

On April 11, 1994, at the Rangers’ first official game at the park, 26-year-old Hollye Minter of Plano was posing for a photo on the upper-deck railing in right field when she fell about 35 feet onto a front-row seat below.

After Minter’s fall, the Rangers posted hundreds of warning signs on railings and replaced the original 3 ¼-inch railing on the upper deck with one 46 inches high.

Minter, who suffered a broken arm, two broken ribs and fractures to bones in her neck, sued the Rangers, the city of Arlington, a Dallas architectural firm and a Washington, D.C., architect for $200,000 after the incident.

The Dallas Morning News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.