By Karen Brooks
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Fans at the opening matchup between the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays this Friday will notice new safety measures in place at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, where a man plunged to his death two weeks ago trying to catch a baseball from the stands.
Warning signs, a pre-game announcement and security guards at Rangers Ballpark will remind visitors not to stand on or lean over the rails, stadium officials announced earlier this week.
Engineering studies are also underway to raise the rails in the stands, which already exceed safety code, to meet the highest standards in the United States, Rangers officials said.
"The safety of our fans is our top priority," Rangers CEO and president Nolan Ryan told reporters.
The move comes after the July 7 death of Shannon Stone, 39, who was at the park with his young son when he went to catch a ball tossed by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton.
Stone toppled over the railing and fell 20 feet from his seat into the lower left field Section 5. He died a short time later, officials said.
Officials did not give a date for when the rails would be raised, but said design and engineering work was currently being done to refit them. Meanwhile, fans who arrive at the opener of a seven-game series between the Blue Jays and the Rangers will see several changes.
Signs at the base of aisles and on the front-row rails, including the front of outfield seating as well as upper-level seating, will read: "Do not lean, sit on, or stand against rail."
A pre-game warning will be read over the ballpark's public announcement system as well as on all the scoreboards. Security guards also will be patrolling the areas near the rails enforcing the new safety measures.
In July 2010, an area firefighter, Tyler Morris, suffered minor injuries when he fell from the stands at Rangers Ballpark trying to catch a foul ball.
(Editing by Jerry Norton)