September 30, 2011
The first moment of baseball's postseason will probably turn out to be its best.
Once you dab the tears from the corner of your eyes, I'm sure you'll agree. That's 6-year-old Cooper Stone delivering the ceremonial first pitch to Texas Rangers all-star Josh Hamilton(notes) before Friday's playoff opener at Rangers Ballpark.
Talk about a brave little boy. You probably already know Cooper's story. Back in July, he attended a Rangers game with his father, Shannon. Hamilton noticed the pair in the stands and tossed the father and son a ball. Shannon lost his balance and fell 20 feet to his death, making national headlines and leading Hamilton to pledge that he'd meet with Cooper at "an appropriate time."
That time turned out to be Friday, when Cooper strode out to the pitcher's mound with a determined look on his face. He was accompanied by his mother Jenny — who wore sunglasses to hide her tears — and Rangers team president Nolan Ryan.
Hamilton, Cooper's favorite player, knelt down in the grass to receive the pitch.
A no-doubt-about-it strike.
Watch it here:
[Cooper] represents what we believe we're about and he is a very dyed-in-the-wool Ranger fan," Nolan Ryan said. "We're just honored that they were willing to come out and do that and share the day with us."
The crowd on hand for the ALDS game between the Rays and Rangers gave Cooper and his mother a standing ovation and television cameras showed several fans wiping tears from their eyes. It was an emotional moment in every sense of the word.
BONUS: Here's a photo gallery of Cooper's first pitch.
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