TUCSON, AZ — The Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs wore their traditional blue and white uniforms as they played an exhibition game, won by Los Angeles, 5-4, with a crowd of over 11,000 in attendance.
The mood, however, was colored Green and the real winners were the memory of a little girl who had her life taken away in a most brutal and senseless fashion, and the city of Tucson, which continues to feel the posthumous impact of a 9-year-old dynamo.
The third Christina Taylor-Green charity baseball game was held Thursday afternoon at the Kimo Sports Complex in this southeastern Arizona city to benefit the foundation named after Christina. In turn, the foundation was able to grant $100,000 to South Arizona Community Sports, which is in the process of building a 40,000 square-foot sports complex for kids to enjoy.
On January 8, 2011, Christina was one of six people killed and 13 wounded by a gunman attempting to assassinate Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords at a shopping center in Tucson, where she was holding another in a series of public meetings. Giffords was shot in the head but lived through the ordeal and continues her recovery. She retired from politics last year. The shooter is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Although Christina was quite young, her parents John and Roxanna said she had shown an interest in politics and sports for most of her life. She was the only girl on her little league team — her No. 12 was hanging in the left-field bullpen — and she had been elected to the student council at Mesa Verde Elementary School shortly before her death.
John Green is a scout for the Dodgers and Roxanna runs the non-profit foundation, which keeps their daughter’s memory — and hopes for the future — very much alive and in the forefront of Tucson activity.
“When we lost our daughter, the community of Tucson really got behind us,” John said, “as did the major league baseball community. You can see from the crowd here today that they’ve continued that support, and we can’t thank them enough.
“It’s still tough to deal with, and one of the reasons we’ve been able to get through this was because of this community, and we’re very proud that through her foundation, we can keep our daughter’s dreams, hopes and memories alive by giving back to others.”
The connection between the Dodgers and the Green family is more than just an employer-employee relationship.
Dodgers’ general manager Ned Colletti worked for Christina’s grandfather — John’s dad — Dallas Green when Green ran the Cubs, making it a very personal matter for Colletti.
“I’ve known John Green since he was a teenager,” Colletti said, “and, of course, his dad for over 30 years. It crosses my mind a lot about what occurred — -not just today but throughout the course of a year. And it’s something that breaks your heart every time you think about it, no matter how far you get away from that date. It’s heartbreaking to me.
“That we can play this game and have the people of Tucson support (it) the way they do — we’ve sold out all three — well, as long as I’m in baseball and training in Arizona, I’ll be here.”
So will the spirit of a young lady, indomitable even by death.