If you're a fan of franchises like the Tampa Bay Rays and Colorado Rockies, when someone asks you how long you've been following that particular team, chances are you could honestly respond with the lifelong fan cliché, before making sure to add it‘s their entire lifespan, not yours.
A gentleman by the name of Bernando LaPallo could respond with that exact same answer when asked about his favorite team as well, but the remarkable difference in his case is that LaPallo is a fan of the New York Yankees.
That’s right, at 111 years young, LaPallo has been alive longer than the New York Yankees have been the New York Yankees. Technically, yes, the franchise did exist on August 17, 1901 — the day LaPollo was born — as the original Baltimore Orioles. When they eventually moved to New York in 1903, they were then known as the Highlanders. It wasn't until LaPallo turned 12 that the Yankees name would come along. Also, for a little more perspective, LaPallo is the same age as the American League itself.
That's pretty mind-blowing when you think about it, and definitely cool, but not nearly as cool as watching LaPallo walk onto the Yankee Stadium grass as he did prior to Saturday evening’s game against the rival Boston Red Sox. LaPallo was given full access to the field and was spotted mingling with players such as Derek Jeter.
To be perfectly honest, he appeared to be getting around just as well as the players themselves. And there's a very good reason for that. At 111, LaPallo remains very active, and it sounds like it's his defiant attitude that keeps pushing him forward.
"Being old and shaking in a wheelchair, that's no good. That's hell," LaPallo said. "I'll get up every morning and I'll take my walk, come back, I can shave, I can bathe, I can do everything you can do."
He's also an author, having published his first book "Age Less Live More" when he was 107. His second book, "Beyond 100 — How to Live Well into Your Second Century," is slated to be released on his 112th birthday.
He's an amazing guy with many amazing stories, including the time he met Babe Ruth prior to the baseball icon making his major league debut. Odds are he's among a very small group of fans who can say they have attended games at all three Yankees ballparks. He says he first attended games at the old Hilltop Park when he was 9 or 10 years old. When the Yankees moved to the old Yankee Stadium in 1923, he was a regular customer there as well. But even he admits he never thought he'd live to see a new Yankee Stadium.
"This is one of the greatest sports days of my life," he said. "This is my first time here and I am so happy about it. If anybody had told me when I was 9 years old that you're going to live to see another stadium, I would have said 'You're crazy.'"
We're all so very glad he proved himself wrong.
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