Monday, March 7, 2011
MLB honors Christina-Taylor Green
By Doug Padilla ESPNChicago.com
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has an affinity for the city of Tucson, which is why the events of Jan. 8 struck him so hard.
Sue Stockton (L) of Tucson, Arizona receives a pin for her donation to the Christina-Taylor Green memorial fundraiser.
It was on that day when a gunman opened fire at a local supermarket, killing six people and wounding 14 others, including congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Among those killed was 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, daughter of Dodgers scout John Green and granddaughter of former Cubs general manager and Phillies manager Dallas Green.
In the wake of that tragic incident, Guillen returned to Tucson with the White Sox, who were facing the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday in a game to benefit a fund set up in the memory of Christina.
"I think it's a sad thing that we come to play for that," said Guillen, who was spending two nights in the area before returning to White Sox camp in Glendale on Tuesday morning. "But I think it's something a lot of players and my coaches say they want to be here because of those reasons.
"It's too bad because a lot of people, they don't know Tucson. Tucson is way better than that. Around the world, they have a view of Tucson in the wrong way. It's unfortunate what happened here and to those families. I think the cause is the one good thing [to come out of it] and the least we can do is to come here and help."
Among the items sold for charity were pink pins bearing Christina's initials, purple wristbands and commemorative T-shirts.
Before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, John Green talked about the two months that have passed since losing his daughter. He said he is back to work making his rounds as a scout.
"It's something we're never going to forget, that's for sure, how to handle it, how we handle it as a family," John Green said. "We're just learning. I still, when I come home at night, like from the airport last night, I drove home and expected to see my son Dallas and Christina there, and Christina's not there. It's difficult."
He said the community and members from his church are still going to amazing lengths to help the family feel a sense of normalcy again. Green talked about how his son Dallas and daughter Christina used to play together while waiting for the bus to school every morning.
To fill that void, a neighbor now brings out her dog every morning so that 11-year-old Dallas has somebody to keep him company during his wait at the bus stop.
"Those type of things are really important and show that people care," Green said.
The baseball community is doing its part as well.
"In my job, I see baseball people all over the country that I may not have seen for six months, so everybody will come up and share their expressions of sorrow and things like that," Green said. "That was my biggest concern going into the year -- that I was going to have to relive this every day. But I actually have come to terms with that, because people that care about you need to do that."
Monday was another one of those days as a near capacity crowd was on hand up to show its support. According to Christina's mother Roxanna Green, the fund will support a number of projects.
"Right now, we're going to build a playground at Christina and Dallas' school, Mesa Verde Elementary," Roxanna Green said. "That's something they desperately need. They've had the same playground equipment for years and years and years. We're going to replace the PE equipment -- possibly buy smart boards, computers, and a lot of companies hopefully will step forward and help us out if they're willing to let us purchase it at cost so we can provide as much as we can for the children at the school.
"Down the road, we'll help other schools. We'll help refurbish other parks for children, help kids go to college, help the less fortunate."
Diamondbacks regular Stephen Drew said he had an opportunity to talk with the Greens before the game.
"It's a huge cause," said Drew, who went 2-for-3 in the D-backs' 12-1 loss. "It's unfortunate, what happened. To be able to give back to that cause, it's really a positive outlook."
White Sox starter Edwin Jackson allowed a run and six hits in 3 1/3 innings.
"It's always good to be able to give back as much as we can," Jackson said. "It's an unfortunate situation that we have to be here, but as long as we can bring a little peace and a little happiness, that's what we're here for."
The Diamondbacks and Dodgers will play another game in Tucson later this month to benefit Christina's fund, while a third game is also in the works and could possibly include the White Sox again.
"When you take away a kid's life with no reason just because, you break a lot of people's hearts," Guillen said. "That innocent girl had nothing to do with that, she was just there. She wanted to be there. It's very hard, especially for people who have kids. ... I wish people do something about it. Don't wait for another tragedy to happen to do something very drastic to the cause."
Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.