The New York Yankees recognized their oldest living fan recently, a Black Brazil-born New Yorker who, at the age of 111, can say, more than anyone else, “been there, done that.”

Bernando LaPallo can say, for instance, he saw, from a seat in the bleachers, Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and scores of other baseball legends play.

On June 2, the Yankees recognized their oldest living fan in a pre-game ceremony, giving him access to the field and making sure he spent some time with Yankees captain Derek Jeter before the Yankees played the Boston Red Sox.

The man who describes himself as a “supercentenarian” told reporters he never though he would live long enough to see the latest baseball venue to be called Yankee Stadium. He said he recalls attending baseball games in the Yankees’ first stadium, which was open in 1923 and known as Hilltop Park.

His passion for baseball was not limited to the Yankees, though. In a statement to Major League Baseball (MLB), LaPallo said “I saw Jackie Robinson steal home.” He said, “that was something.”

Also thrilling was when, he said, he “met Babe Ruth.”

“He said I was his youngest fan,” LaPallo said Ruth told him.

LaPallo says he was born in Brazil on Aug. 17, 1901, and later moved to the United States with mother Mattie Carr and Bernando LaPallo Sr.

He said he studied culinary arts in Paris and then pursued a career in healing arts. He studied massage at The Swedish Institute in New York and later became a reflexologist and podiatrist.

At the age 107, LaPallo wrote his very first book, “Age Less Live More,” and his second book, which is scheduled to be released on his birthday Aug.17 is called, “Beyond 100-How to Live Well into Your Second Century.”

LaPallo said he doesn’t consider himself old. “Being old is shaking in a wheelchair. That’s no good. That’s hell,” he said in a statement.

He said in a recent statement the secret to his good health and looks came from his father who said “never eat those hotdogs or hamburgers, because if you do, they’ll make you sick.”

The June 2 Yankee Stadium recognition is one day LaPallo says he will never forget. He said, “this day has me choked up.”

 

Blair Adams

AFRO Staff Writer