ARLINGTON - Cooper Stone, the six-year-old son of a firefighter who died due to injuries suffered in a fall this July at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, threw out the ceremonial first pitch for game one of the Rangers' American League Divisional Series Friday.
Cooper delivered a strike to Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, who was in a catcher's squat a few yards in front of the mound.
Cooper's father, Shannon Stone, fell from the left field stands on July 7 while trying to catch an out-of-play ball thrown to him by Hamilton, Cooper's favorite player. He died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital following the accident.
"The fact that [Cooper] was brave enough to do that, that is so fantastic," said Shannon's childhood friend, Shawn Presley. "I'm sure [Shannon] is looking down upon us, looking down on his son and his family. I know without a doubt that he was there."
Presley added that the moment is one baseball fans will never forget.
"It's for all of us," said Presley. "For every fan who goes out there. For every father and son that goes out there, that brings their gloves and hopes to catch a home run or foul ball or ball tossed into the stands. It's for all of us."
After the pitch, Hamilton hugged Cooper and Jenny Stone, the Brownwood firefighter's widow, as the crowd cheered.
Jenny Stone released the following statement after the pitch:
"We want to once again thank Nolan Ryan and the Texas Rangers. They have turned a difficult return to The Ballpark into an once-in-a-lifetime experience for Cooper. 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."
Friday was Cooper's first time back at the ballpark since the accident.
News 8 spoke to Shannon Stone's parents in Cleburne. They declined to talk on camera, but told us they were proud of Cooper, and their son was smiling from heaven.
The Rangers began a memorial fund for the Stone Family and raised money for the fund through auctions online and at the ballpark. The team also plans to create a statue of Shannon and Cooper Stone that will be placed at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in the off-season.
“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,” Jenny Stone said in a statement after the statue announcement.