Christina Taylor Green's grandfather, ex-Mets & Yankees manager Dallas Green, devastated by death

Jan 9, 2011

He is a big man with a voice to match, a voice you could always hear all over the ballpark, when Dallas Green was managing the Phillies to the World Series in 1980, later when he became one of the few men to manage both the Yankees and the Mets.

Only now the voice on the telephone was small, in these small, terrible pieces, the voice of a grieving grandfather talking about the loss of Christina Taylor Green, his 9-year old, one of the six killed on Saturday in Tucson when the shooting started outside a Safeway.

"We're all hurting pretty hard," Dallas Green said.

He was at his winter home in the Caribbean, a place called Providenciales, an island in Turks and Caicos, when he found out about his granddaughter. Green and his wife managed to make it to Miami last night, now they were on their way to Arizona to be his with son, John, a Dodger scout, and Green's daughter-in-law Roxanna.

In their family, in lives that will never be the same for a single day, the tragedy in Tucson wasn't about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, or the death of a federal judge, or the other people killed or wounded by a monster carrying a gun out of his own madness, through the gates of hell. This was about a little girl killed for what is always the worst reason, in America or anywhere else, killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Their little girl.

Green trying to find a way to put into words what never can be put into words, just because there never are any.

"It's pretty hard," Dallas Green said. "We're all hurting pretty bad."

"I can't believe this could happen to any 9-year old child," he said, "much less our own."

He said, "The worst thing to ever happen to us."

Then the big man with his big head of white hair, one who was never afraid of anybody or anything in baseball, who once called out George Steinbrenner as "Manager George" - it was a day when a Yankee manager effectively fired the Yankees - began to cry.

Green was watching television on Saturday afternoon, nothing else to do, he said, when he learned about the shooting in Tucson: A gunman, unnamed at the time, walking up to 40-year-old Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and shooting her in the head, then opening fire with what turned out to be a Glock on the people waiting in line to meet their congresswoman from the 8th Congressional district, Tucson, Ariz.

"I didn't make any connection," Dallas Green said yesterday.

Why would he? Why would Dallas Green have any idea that his 9-year old granddaughter, recently elected to the student council at her school, a second baseman on her Little League team, had been brought by a neighbor to meet her Congresswoman?

But that is exactly what had happened, the 9-year old just elected at the Mesa Verde Elementary School wanting to meet Giffords, just elected to her third term in Congress, once the youngest woman - at the age of 32 - elected to the state senate in Arizona.

Green's wife left the room to call their son, see what he thought about what had just happened in Tucson, what his reaction was to something like this happening so close to his own home.

When Sylvia Green came back into the room, she was sobbing, barely able to manage this:

"They shot our beautiful Christina."

And that is how the old baseball man, a great baseball man, 76 now, found out that one of the bullets had been fired directly into the heart of his family, killed a 9-year old girl who was only at the Safeway, as her mother would tell Fox News later, because she was "very interested in government she could help her community."

By the time Dallas Green's daughter-in-law, got to the hospital in Tucson, it was too late, the girl was gone. John Green would talk later about his daughter being born on September 11, 2001, such a tragic day in American history, and now dying in this senseless and tragic way, but how the nine years in between were so magical, for the little girl, for her parents.

And for her famous baseball grandfather.

"She was a good speaker," John Green would tell the Arizona Star. "I could easily have seen her as a politician."

When the little girl was old enough, her parents told her the significance of the day she was born, her baby picture even featured in a book called "Faces of Hope: Babies Born on 9/11." At first the little girl would tell people that she was born on a "holiday," before her parents would have to correct her.

"This beautiful little girl," Dallas Green said yesterday, not just a grandfather now, a father trying to get across the country to comfort his own child. "Gone like this..."

Then the voice was gone again.

He has a name that has been known around baseball for such a long time. Nearly made a year managing the Yankees, lasted a lot longer than that with the Mets in the 90s. These were supposed to be Dallas Green's golden years, in the winter sun of the Caribbean, and spring training in Clearwater, Fla., where the Phillies train.

Then a gun went off outside a Safeway in Tucson and the old man found out one of the bullets had killed one of his own, much too young.



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