Barry M. Bloom

Teams help keep Green's memory alive

Teams help keep Green's memory alive

Teams help keep Green's memory alive
TUCSON, Ariz. -- It's been more than a year since John and Roxanna Green lost their daughter, a year since the Dodgers played the first exhibition to benefit the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation. Her father, after all, is a scout in the Dodgers' organization, a member of the extended family.

"There's still pain every day in losing our daughter," John Green said on Friday before the Dodgers played the White Sox in another Christina-Taylor benefit game at what is now called Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium. "But it is healing to know that we've gotten involved in the type of things she would have been proud of."

Jan. 8, 2011, began just like any other Saturday morning. Christina-Taylor was up early, excited about going with a neighbor to meet Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at the local Safeway. There was a cool nip in the air, and her mother sent Christina-Taylor back upstairs to get a sweatshirt. She left happily. That was the last time the Greens saw her. She was killed later that morning, during a 20-second shooting spree that took the lives of six people and wounded 13 others, including Giffords. Christina-Taylor was 9 years old.

Giffords has since resigned from the House to continue what can only be termed a miraculous recovery. She was shot point-blank in the head. Ron Barber, a former Giffords aide who also was wounded that day, is running in a June 12 special election to fill her empty Arizona 8th District seat. One of the first endeavors of the Foundation was funding and constructing a new playground at Christina-Taylor's Mesa Verde Elementary School. That $250,000 project has been dedicated and is complete.

So much has changed since time seemed to stand still on that tragic day, just as so much remains the same. The baseball community immediately circled around the Greens because Christina-Taylor was one of their own. John's father is Dallas Green, still an advisor to the Phillies club he once managed to the 1980 World Series title, the first in franchise history. Dallas helped Ned Colletti get his first big league job and took the kid with him to Chicago when he became general manager of the Cubs.

Later still, Dallas managed Don Mattingly when he played for the Yankees. And now Colletti and Mattingly are GM and manager respectively of the Dodgers, who employee John Green as a pro scout. And that's the way the baseball world works and turns.

"My father was a young man going through a tough time with lung cancer in Chicago," Colletti said on Friday. "Dallas was my first boss. He brought me back to Chicago in January 1982. I began my career with him. My dad died that April. It gave me a chance to spend some time with my dad and help my mom. You never forget things like that. Our families have been entwined for three decades. What happened here a year ago January, it crushed a lot people, including the Colletti family."

The baseball world continues to circle around the Greens. The Dodgers made a strong effort to represent the organization in Friday's second annual Christina-Taylor game. Christina-Taylor pitched in Little League and dreamed of being the first woman to play in the Major Leagues. Her No. 12 again hung above the bullpen in left field.

On the field, the Dodgers' lineup included regulars Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Dee Gordon, Mark Ellis and Tony Gwynn, just to name a few. No one had to twist any arms for them to make the 120-mile trip south on I-10 from Camelback Ranch. They all felt it was the right thing to do.

"I'm excited to be down here," Mattingly said. "I played for Dallas. I think this is something we should be involved with. It feels good. Obviously, this community was affected. It feels like the right thing to keep that memory alive."

The Greens are keeping Christina-Taylor's memory alive by funding projects through the foundation that will make it a better place for children to live. They'll soon be taking applications for grants through the Foundation's website The Brewers, who played the Mariners here in a Cactus League game on March 16, informed the Greens on Friday that they are donating $2,000 to the Foundation.

Roxanna said that all the projects funded through the Foundation are a way to work through the family's ongoing grief. She's also written a book about the ordeal called, "As Good As She Imagined: The Redeeming Story of the Angel of Tucson."

"I want people to never forget Christina-Taylor and the way she lived her life -- that she was born on 9/11/01 and died on that tragic day, 1/8/11," she wrote. "While those were both dark days, the nine years of her life in between were beautiful. ... I think she would want people to remember her as a fierce competitor and a strong little woman. She wanted to help people and she wanted to make a difference.

"It is Christina-Taylor's hope, her ambitions, her dreams that keep us going and will be her legacy."

The book has a snapshot of her once beautiful and vibrant smiling face on the cover.

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.