They honored the memory of Dallas Green’s granddaughter at the Trails baseball fields in Summerlin late Saturday afternoon. There were poignant words and a dedication and a chance to reflect, for a moment, on the all-too-short life of precocious Christina Taylor Green from Arizona.
The Little League-aged ballplayers sported patches with her initials on their jerseys, not far from their hearts, the same place fans of the 1980 Phillies and the 1984 Cubs hold her grandfather for managing and general managing their teams with aplomb.
But this was a different kind of empathy, the kind one hates to hear about, the kind that happens when a 9-year-old little girl has the terrible misfortune of being some place at the wrong time.
Christina Taylor Green was the youngest of the six victims shot and killed outside a Tucson, Ariz., supermarket on Jan. 8 during a meet-and-greet for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Christina’s dad, John, is a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers. She was one of two girls on her team in the Canyon Del Oro Little League. Baseball was an integral part of this girl’s life. So were gymnastics, dancing, swimming, caring for animals and caring for those not as fortunate as her.
She was like any of the 14 girls who threw out ceremonial first pitches simultaneously in her honor between games at the Summerlin North Little League on Saturday. Except she’s no longer playing baseball with boys, or doing any of those other things.
“The core values of Little League are character, courage and loyalty,” league president Jeff Grove said. “This girl exemplified them well. I think it’s important to remember all the things this little girl did in her short life.
“This,” Grove said, looking up from his script, “is one of those things that are bigger than baseball.”
The parents in the bleachers were respectfully quiet when Grove spoke of Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year-old girl from Tucson. If there was a shortage of tears, it was only because this was somebody else’s little girl, somebody else’s child. It always is. Until one day it isn’t.
Then 14 other little girls line up and throw out a ceremonial first pitch, much too young to understand the significance of the patch on their uniforms, about the emotion they were wearing on their sleeves.
■ The top-seeded UNLV women’s tennis team was upset by fourth-seeded Texas Christian in the Mountain West Conference championships — a development that, if you asked the team’s legions of adoring male fans, is no more disheartening than Danica Patrick finishing 17th in an IndyCar Series race.
■ Norm Clarke, the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s man about town, reports that new UNLV men’s basketball coach Dave Rice was seen breaking bread with chief UNLV booster Cliff Findlay at Pasta Shop Ristorante & Art Gallery. Maybe this means one of the good players at Findlay Prep instead of, say, a backup center or two, might wind up playing for the Rebels instead of Texas.
■ Trevor Gretzky, Son of Great One, hit for the cycle to lead the Oaks Christian, Calif., baseball team to a 22-3, five-inning victory over O’Gorman of South Dakota in the quarterfinals of Bishop Gorman’s Easter baseball tournament. In one game, T. Gretzky, bound for San Diego State on a baseball scholarship, went 5-for-5 and had nine RBIs. By comparison, it took B. Gretzky — Trevor’s uncle Brent, Brother of Great One — 40 games to score 17 points on five goals and 12 assists for the 1996-97 Las Vegas Thunder of the International Hockey League.
■ ESPN’s Jon Gruden told NFL Draft sidekick Chris Berman the two of them could complete passes against some of the defenses Texas Christian quarterback Andy Dalton faced in the Mountain West, which would suggest the MWC still has a perception problem. Or that Gruden, like ESPN colleague Kirk Herbstreit, doesn’t get The Mtn., either.
■ Almost every time a former member of the 51s makes news, the team puts out a news release to call attention to the fact. Just a guess here, but the front office has been willing to make an exception in the case of Roger McDowell, a former Las Vegas pitching coach who is crude and rude.
■ The next time you hear the phrase “fairy tale,” there’s probably a 99 percent chance it will be in context of the Royal Wedding, and probably a 1 percent chance it will be in context of the 51s’ bullpen holding a lead.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.