It was a capacity crowd on March 21 as the Los Angeles Dodgers took on the Chicago Cubs in the final of two spring training games to come to Tucson’s Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium this year.
Both games benefited the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation, named after the nine-year-old girl killed in a 2011 mass shooting at a congressional event hosted by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
“Thanks for everyone coming out today to support the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation and Major League Baseball,” said Christina’s father, John Green, to the 11,000-plus fans packing the sports complex.
Of the proceeds raised, $100,000 will go toward building a youth sports center near La Cholla and River roads. The Southern Arizona Community Sports Center will be the largest indoor sports center for youth sports in Arizona.
The project is only fitting for the Green family, as John is a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Christina was an avid baseball fan.
“It’s a great thing to watch,” said Cubs fan David Crescent about the fundraising. “I have kids of my own, and to see the positive progress they’re making in their child’s memory – it’s just nice to see.”
Christina’s brother, Dallas, would get things started by throwing the game’s first pitch.
The Dodgers would go on to beat the Cubs 5-4, highlighted by a homerun from Alex Castellanos, his fourth of the spring season. Slugger and all-star Matt Kemp, who is recovering well from shoulder surgery, tripled to right in the fifth inning.
The Cubs’ Starlin Castro also homered off Dodgers starting pitcher Stephen Fife.
For Tucson families, the experience of spring training is always a rare one.
“We bought tickets to both games this year,” said local Tucsonan Andrea Barcellona, who attended with her husband Mark and two children, Danny and Vicki.
“We’re glad to see spring training stay local,” said Mark. “It seems to be getting tougher and tougher to come by. Last year, there were three games, this year there are two. We just hope it keeps coming, because the kids love it and it gets us all out of the house together.”
Fans who attended the first spring training game, held on St. Patrick’s Day, got to see the Arizona Diamondbacks take down the San Diego Padres, 8-6.
Diamondbacks starting pitcher Patrick Corbin earned four strikeouts and gave up one earned run en route to the victory.
“It was a good to see our home team get the win,” said ticket buyer Christopher Allen. “We’ve been a little shaky early on this year but I think we can put it together before the season gets going.”
Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium is located at 2500 E. Ajo Way. For upcoming events, visit www.kinosportscomplex.com or call 434-1011.