Phillies' Dallas Green remembers granddaughter

February 16, 2011 3:38:36 PM PST
We know Dallas Green as the bear of a man who led the Phillies to their first World Championship, but now we see him as a grandfather and father suffering through an unspeakable tragedy.

"That little girl woke an awful lot of people up. We just miss the hell out of her," Green said.

Standing behind a small practice field at the Phillies' spring training complex, Green spoke to reporters in Florida about his 9-year-old granddaughter Christina, killed along with 5 others on January 8th, during the senseless shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona that critically wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

He said Christina, who he called called his "Princess," was wise beyond her years.

"She embodied what's good about kids, and what's good about growing up in the United States," Green said. "She wanted desperately to be a little girl that loved doing what she did. Obviously her interest in politics and going to that function, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, hit an awful lot of people hard."

Born hours after the tragedies on Sept. 11, 2001, Christina Taylor was an aspiring politician. She had just been elected to the student council as a third grader in her elementary school. Her maturity level showed in the way she helped care for her 11-year-old brother Dallas, who has a form of autism.

"She was a really special young lady, probably older than her years," Green said. "She and her brother were very close. Christina was the mom as much as Roxanna was to little Dallas. She made sure he got on the bus right, made sure he got to karate classes on time."

A neighbor had taken Christina to the supermarket to meet Giffords.

"God bless the lady that took her. She took three bullets and tried to protect Christina. Couldn't do it. But she was just a wonderful person for the family and for Christina. I'll never forget her. I know she's going through her own hell, but she shouldn't. Christina did want to go and did want to be a part of that. They were buddies as much as a buddy could be together with the difference in ages. We send her our best obviously, always," Green said.

Green's voice was trembling with tears hidden beneath his sunglasses.

"You know, I'm supposed to be a tough sucker and I'm not very tough when it comes to this, I apologize," Green said.

Green, the Phillies manager back in their 1980 championship season, is now a senior advisor in the team's front office.

As he spoke today for the first time since the death of his granddaughter, it was clear he's hurting, but baseball has helped him start the healing process.

Green said he has a responsibility to the Phillies, and never gave it a thought that he wouldn't come to spring training as he has every year.

The game is therapeutic to Green during such a horrific time of mourning

"It has helped me because, obviously, you sink yourself into the work and you don't see a little girl with a hole in her chest as much, so I get through it, but John, my son, is going to hurt like the devil for a long time," Green said.

Christina was athletic, of course. Baseball was in her genes. Her grandpa pitched in the majors before becoming a manager. Her father, John Green, is a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Christina was the only girl on her little league baseball team.

"Christina was the star on her team, if you talk to her about it," Green said. "She said she was going to be the first major league gal. That's nine years old. She was pretty good. I did see her swing the bat a couple times. John said that she's not a bad little player for nine years old."

Jared Loughner is charged in federal court with the shootings. The only time Green expressed anger was not necessarily at the killer, but the system itself.

"You would hope that there would be some understanding that there are crazies in this world and that I guess the one thing that I can't get through my mind, even though I'm a hunter and I love to shoot and I love to have my guns, I don't have a Glock or whatever it is or a magazine with 33 bullets it in," Green said. "That doesn't make sense for me to be able to sell those kind of things. I guess I never thought about it until this happened and what reason is there to have those kind of guns other than to kill people.

"I just don't understand that."


Rob Maadi of the Associated Press contributed to this report.