A 110-year-old New York Yankees fan who claims to have seen them play at Hilltop Park when the team was known as the Highlanders was honored by the team Saturday.
Bernando LaPallo, now a resident of Arizona, was born in Brazil but grew up in New York as a baseball fan, following the team after its move from Baltimore and then witnessing the rise of the New York Yankees and stars like Babe Ruth. At that time the Yankees/Highlanders wasn’t the major draw in New York City; this was before the rise of the Bronx Bombers, the emergence of Col. Jacob Ruppert as a baseball business genius and the purchase of Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox. From AP:
LaPallo attracted quite a crowd while the Yankees took batting practice before playing the Red Sox. He stood without assistance and showed nary a wrinkle, recalling how met Babe Ruth before the slugger was a major leaguer.
LaPallo said he first saw the Yankees in person when they were called the Highlanders and played at Hilltop Park, their home until 1912.
The Yankees congratulated LaPallo on the scoreboard during Saturday’s game and he got a big cheer from the crowd.
Of course, this being New York, there was a kerfuffle about LaPallo’s actual age. AP dug through the records and said he was born in 1910, not 1901. LaPallo’s family says the birth year was incorrectly transposed by U.S. government officials, and that the original records of his birth in Brazil are long gone.
The New York Yankees — then known as the Highlanders — played in Hilltop Park between 1903 and 1912. It was torn down in 1914. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital sits on the ballpark site.
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