Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, is a great place to watch a baseball game. Let’s just not turn it into a place where fans have to watch our great game at their own risk.

Before I made my recent return to my home state of Missouri, deep in the heart of Texas is where I made a living.

Fortunately for me, I was lucky to live in a quaint area of Fort Worth that was a quick 20-minute drive to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

It was a great year to be a baseball fan in Texas last summer, just as much as it is this year. But last year’s 2010 American League Championship season was pretty special, especially if you are like me and would go to a game — or sometimes even two games — a weekend just to take in America’s great game.

Being a humble guy from the Midwest, baseball has always been a wonderful escape from everyday life. And since sports coverage down in the Lone Star State revolves around football, it was always nice to head over to Arlington and take in baseball, the real sport, in what truly is the most decorated facility in all of Major League Baseball.
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (or the Ballpark in Arlington as it’s best known) is a very, very beautiful ballpark.

On the outside it is huge in design with high arced entrance ways and lives up to the phrase, “Everything is bigger in Texas.” On the inside it is a combination of baseball irony, salutes and history.

The right field porch is designed after Tiger Stadium with support columns that take you back to the golden days of baseball. The right field wall is indented marking a special feature of Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., and of course there’s the “frost” that surrounds the rim of the roof just like in old Yankee Stadium.

Here’s a fun fact you might find interesting. When the Rangers moved into the ballpark in 1994, the foul poles and bleachers were moved from the team’s former facility, Arlington Stadium, and installed in the new stadium.

But here’s another fact that I noticed during my time watching games there. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is not a very safe place.

The news was hard to avoid on the man, a firefighter, who reached out for a ball tossed into the stands by MVP Josh Hamilton. Unfortunately, the fan fell to his death behind the outfield wall. Yet this isn’t the first time such an accident has happened at Rangers Ballpark.

A man fell last year over the upper-deck railings on the first base side near the Rangers’ dugout and on Opening Day 1994, the ballpark’s inaugural game, a fan fell over a railing. Both men suffered injuries, but the year’s incident produced the first death at the stadium.

Having attended so many games there, it kind of surprises me that there haven’t been additional, similar incidents.

The railings are not tall enough, the standing space between the walls and the first-row seats of the sections are too close for fans to maneuver themselves properly, and truthfully, the railings are not strong enough. Thin cables run along the railings and the red painted steel rails aren’t much of a stopping system especially when a fully grown human being is up against them.

Nolan Ryan, now that he’s the owner of the team, clearly has an issue on his hands that needs to be dealt with. He can’t let the situation end or think it’s going to go away by releasing a statement that says the typical things like the organization is saddened by the death of the fan and that sympathies go out to the family. He needs to raise the railings so that fans are completely safe.

Don’t worry about obstructed views Mr. Express, sections of Plexiglas are working out great in all of the new stadiums opening across the country. Fans can still see and they’ll be safe. 

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is a great place to watch a baseball game. Let’s just not turn it into a place where fans have to watch our great game at their own risk.

Dominic Genetti writes for the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post.