Dodgers scout John Green mourns daughter, fights against violence
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org March 21, 2013 10:03PM
Brother Dallas Green, right, wipes away a tear while seated next to his father John Green and mother Roxanna Green during the funeral of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011, in Tucson, Ariz. Green was the youngest victim of Saturday's shooting in Tucson. (AP Photo/Greg Bryan, Pool)
Updated: April 23, 2013 2:29PM
TUCSON, Ariz. — They were here to give voice to Christina-Taylor Green. And whether they realized it, to give rise to echoes of Chicago’s Jonylah Watkins and Hadiya Pendleton, and the victims of last month’s rampage by an ex-Los Angeles cop — and to countless other innocent shooting victims from Tucson to Englewood to Newtown, Conn.
“There’s some tough moments that are never going to go away,” said John Green, a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers, son of former Cubs general manager Dallas Green and, more significantly, a father who lost his 9-year-old daughter, Christina-Taylor, in the same mass shooting that left U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords with life-altering brain injuries.
Less than 10 miles and barely two years removed from that Tucson incident, the Cubs and Dodgers met Thursday in a charity exhibition game to benefit the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation, which has raised more than $500,000 for area parks and other academic, arts and athletic-related projects.
As much as this seemed to be about Tucson, though, the shadow of daily violence back home was as inescapable as the thin cloud cover that never lifted on this day in Arizona.
“It gives you pause,” said Green, who spent formative years in Chicago as a young man in the early 1980s and sees the nearly constant flow of violence-related headlines from his former hometown through an unthinkable personal viewpoint.
“I don’t think we have all the answers to figure out the gun-control issue,” he said, “but it’s definitely a problem that our country has to solve. I don’t know if we’ll ever solve it 100 percent. But we’ve got to try. We’ve got to make an effort because I know there are people out there that want to make an effort.
“So if there’s an impetus to make an effort, at least we can live with ourselves.”
Green talked about long drives on “lonely back roads” during scouting trips that become his moments with his daughter, about how her passion for politics, country and the national anthem make that daily pregame ritual “my time with her.” About the pride he has in the coping ability of his young son —who by accident of a time conflict of a karate lesson might have been at the Giffords event that day.
“My wife and I, my son Dallas, we have our tough days,” he said.
With the Cubs in town for the event, it brought back memories of John’s time in Chicago — “a special place in my heart,” he said — when his father was an outspoken “lightning rod” who took two years to turn the Cubs into a postseason team for the first time in four decades.
Even in his place of privilege at the time, he was aware of the senselessness on the streets around him.
“You were definitely aware,” he said. “Back then, the big thing I remember was Cabrini-Green. Now they’ve mowed that down. But I don’t know if that solved anything.”
From the daily carnage in Chicago — including the mind-numbing shooting death of 6-month-old Watkins — to the mass shootings in Colorado and the Newtown massacre of 20 elementary school children and six adults, it was hard not to see the larger, national, human scope of a three-hour event in this small Arizona city.
“I think they should push the [minimum age] law [for buying a gun] to 31 and stop the [unregulated] gun shows,” Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney said. “I think they should get rid of assault weapons. Why would you need one? You don’t hunt with them.”
The gunman who killed Green’s daughter used a semiautomatic handgun with more than 30 rounds in the clip. He was stopped only when he dropped a second clip trying to reload. A semiautomatic rifle was used by the Newtown killer.
“I’m just not a gun guy; I never hunted as a kid or any of that stuff,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “I don’t see the need for assault rifles. It doesn’t make any sense to me for a guy to have an assault rifle in his house. I would definitely be against any kind of weapons that you’re able to fire off that many rounds at one time. That doesn’t make any sense. In the military maybe.”
Cubs manager Dale Sveum, a longtime acquaintance of Green who embraced Thursday’s event, declined to comment on the gun-control issue. He’s an avid hunter, who, coincidentally, was grazed with birdshot in a hunting accident during the offseason.
For Green, it’s not about eliminating guns from America, and he’s not naïve enough to think any laws are going to prevent all these shootings.
It’s about nothing more than caring enough to try.
“So we can look at ourselves in the mirror,” he said, “and say, ‘You know what: There’s flaws in our politicians, there’s flaws in our policies, but we know that we’re trying to do our best.’
“We just can’t sit back and not try to do better.”