Cooper Stone, Son of Fallen Texas Rangers Fan, Throws Out First Pitch

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LM Otero / AP

Cooper Stone, 6, tosses the ceremonial first pitch to Texas Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton (32) before Game 1 of baseball's American League division series playoffs on Friday, Sept. 30, 2011

With his favorite player, Josh Hamilton, as catcher, the 6-year-old wound up and threw a perfect strike as the crowd rose to its feet.

In his first return to Rangers Ballpark since the July 7 incident, Cooper Stone – who watched his dad fall head-first to the ground trying to catch a foul ball – had the honor of throwing out the first pitch in the Rangers first playoff game.

(READ: Fan Tragedy: More Sadness for Josh Hamilton)

After the ball hit Hamilton’s glove, the Rangers’ outfielder rushed to embrace young Cooper, nearly forgetting to hand him the ceremonial ball.  Cooper was joined at the mound by his widowed mother, Jenny, and Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan.

Cooper became a much-lamented face in the media after cameras caught the horrifying July 7 incident at Rangers Ballpark, where his father Shannon fell over the railing as he reached to catch a foul ball tossed into the stands, incidentally, by Hamilton.

Shannon, a firefighter from Brownwood ,Tex., tumbled more than 20 feet, head first, onto the concrete flooring behind the outfield wall. He died later at a hospital, concerned only about his son as he was rushed in on a stretcher.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Rangers plan to construct a statue of Shannon and Cooper to promote the ideal of family memories, a key dogma of the team.

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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