Nightly News   |  October 01, 2011

Back in the game

A 6-year-old boy has an emotional return to the ballpark following a life-altering tragedy. Click here for donation information. NBC’s Kate Snow reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a game one of an american league division series would be a big deal for any 6-year-old baseball fan. but last night in arlington, texas, that first pitch was about a whole lot more than baseball. for 6-year-old cooper stone, it was a dream come true, throwing out the first pitch to his favorite player, texas ranger star outfielder josh hamilton . but it was a dream moment that only came after a nightmare. back in july, cooper was enjoying a rangers game with his dad, shannon stone. as a nice gesture to a little fan, hamilton had tried to toss a ball up into the stands for the boy. but as his dad strained to catch it, he fell over the railing. the 39-year-old firefighter died later that night. last night's big moment was emotional for the 50,000 fans on hand. but it was something cooper needed. he'd been asking his mom all summer to take him back to the ballpark. she was in constant contact with rangers president and baseball great nolan ryan .

>> she told me that she felt like before the season was over, that she would bring him back because she felt like that was in his best interests.

>> since the accident, the rangers have raised several hundred thousand dollars for cooper's family, for his future. cooper's mother called their difficult return to the ballpark a once in a lifetime experience. hamilton, the season's mvp, who's had his own struggles, too took a moment to talk with her as they embraced.

>> i just told her to make sure that everyone knows who his dad was and who he stood for. make sure he understood that.

>> by all accounts, shannon stone was a great dad who took cooper with him everywhere he went. more about the rangers fund for the stone family is at nightly.msnbc.com. and