Fan who fell from upper deck at Rangers Ballpark in fair condition

ARLINGTON -- The firefighter who fell 30 feet from the second deck of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is "still kind of in shock, but in good spirits" the day after the horrific incident, a longtime friend said Wednesday.

William Tyler Morris, 25, of Rio Vista was listed in fair condition at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, spokeswoman Diana Carroll said.

Friend Ben Westcott, 25, of Keene said Morris suffered a head injury and a sprained ankle after he reached for a foul ball, lost his balance and went over the railing in the fifth inning of Tuesday night's game against the Cleveland Indians.

"He’s doing well compared to how he should be doing," said Westcott, a Watauga firefighter who is acting as the family's spokesman. "He is a really strong-willed person, and I don't doubt a bit that his stubbornness is helping him through this."

Morris attended the game with several fellow firefighters from the Lake Cities Fire Department, which serves the Denton County cities and towns of Corinth, Hickory Creek, Lake Dallas and Shady Shores.

After the fall, the game was delayed 16 minutes, and players were taken off the field as emergency personnel treated Morris. Four fans below him were also injured but were treated at the ballpark.

The Rangers beat the Cleveland Indians 12-1, getting a combined five hits and six RBIs from bench players Joaquin Arias and Andres Blanco as they filled in for the top two hitters in the regular lineup, Elvis Andrus and Michael Young.

Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero, Nelson Cruz and David Murphy all hit home runs, but the foul ball Cruz hit in the fifth inning caused the most concern for players and fans.

Cruz was batting with two outs against Indians starter Justin Masterson (3-8) when he lofted a foul ball down the first-base line and into Section 235. The ball sailed some three rows above the Morris' head and caromed back toward the field of play.

Morris reached for the ball, lost his balance and went over the railing. He fell onto the ribbon paneling on the face of the lower-suites level and somersaulted forward toward the lower bowl.

He appeared to land on his right side against a few rows of seats. Emergency personnel were quick to respond and had removed the man within 10 minutes.

The fans who were injured by his fall were treated at the first-aid station in the ballpark and were not transported to the hospital.

One of the injured, a boy, suffered a bruise to his face, team president Nolan Ryan said.

"You are concerned for the individual that it happened to and the people who might have been injured in the fall," Ryan said. "I think we're very fortunate that it wasn't worse that it was."

Tuesday wasn't the first time that a fan fell over a railing at the ballpark.

On April 11, 1994, a 26-year-old Plano woman posing for a photo after the Rangers' first game at the Ballpark fell 35 feet from the second deck of Home Run Porch. She received multiple injuries in the fall and the Rangers later installed taller railings.

Tuesday's game resumed shortly after 8:45 p.m. Cruz singled to left field, and Guerrero was thrown out at home to end the inning.

Cruz wasn't available for comment after the game. 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."

Said Indians manager Manny Acta: "It was just tough to watch. It didn't affect the outcome of the game at all, but I think the guys were pretty relieved when we got news that the guy was conscious and he was OK.

"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."

After C.J. Wilson (7-4) posted his fifth consecutive scoreless inning following a homer to Jayson Nix in the first, the Rangers broke open a 3-1 game with five runs.

Masterson got only two more outs after the fan fell and allowed four runs. Arias delivered three with a bases-loaded double, and he later added an RBI hit in the seventh to give him a career-high four RBIs. Blanco, who had a two-run, two-out double in the fourth, matched his career-high with three hits.

The two players they replaced are a six-time All-Star and a second-year player who will make his All-Star Game debut next week.

"They picked us up," manager Ron Washington said of Arias and Blanco. "I never doubted that they wouldn't."

Hamilton's homer in the second erased the Indians' quick lead. Guerrero's homer capped the five-run sixth, and Cruz and Murphy had solo shots in the seventh and eighth.

"The bats came out big tonight," Wilson said. "We've been playing good teams. Last night was a drubbing, but we were able to flush that and come back and reassert ourselves."

Star-Telegram Staff Writers Nate Jones contributed to this report.