Oldest Dodgers fan turns 107
Ruth Smith reminisces on great moments in Dodger history
SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Today is Ruth Smith's birthday. Now that's not a big deal to most people, but when you turn 107 years old -- yeah, that's a big deal.
Not only is Mrs. Smith 107, but she is probably the oldest living Dodger fan. If there is an older one, please contact MLB.com. But since there are only about 10 known people to be 110, it's pretty safe to say that Ruthie, as her friends and family call her, has the record.
"It's great to be 107," said Smith. "If I could only still see, it would be better. I was born in 1900 at 752 Kensington Road, here in Los Angeles." Which probably means that Ruth is not only the oldest living Dodger fan, she's more than likely one of the oldest living native Angelinos.
Let's really put this into perspective. When Mrs. Smith was born on March 10, 1900, William McKinley was running for his second term in the White House. When the Titanic sank in 1912, Ruthie remembers the event.
"I was 12 years old," reminisces Ruth. "I remember all the paperboys telling 'Extra, extra.' I remember all that, the wars, Franklin Roosevelt -- he was my favorite president."
Mrs. Smith has been around so long, she not only predates the freeways in Los Angeles, she predates paved roads.
"There were just dirt roads all around," said Ruth. "I liked it better years ago, than it is now."
Smith, who has spent most of her life in Burbank, Calif., has always enjoyed baseball. She followed the old Hollywood Stars and Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League, but didn't become a Dodger fan until the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1958.
"My son and I would watch them all the time," said Ruth. "We went to games at Chavez Ravine, but we have always liked to listen to them on the radio and watch them on TV."
Ruth's son, Frank, lived with his mother until he passed away last December. Frank and Ruth would either listen or watch every game. When she lost her sight a few years ago, the two would still watch every game on television and Frank would explain to his mother what he was seeing, but Ruth knew she had another man to listen too.
"Vin Scully, he's a great, great broadcaster," said Ruth of the Dodger legend who will be broadcasting his 58th season of Dodger baseball this year. "I've listened to a lot of games he's done."
There were other Dodgers, too, that Ruth remembers.
"Don't make me pick a favorite, I like them all," cautions Ruth. "But I do remember Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, and the championships they had."
Another Dodger who means a lot to Ruth is Tommy Lasorda. The Hall of Fame manager recently sent an autographed photo that sits proudly on top of the fireplace at the house of her daughter, Betty Russell. Betty and her husband Thomas have been taking care of Ruth since Frank's death.
"Tommy was a great manager and it was so nice of him to write me with his picture."
When asked about being the oldest living Dodger fan, Ruth just smiled, "I guess it is pretty good."
This is not Ruth's first brush with fame. In 2002 "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno visited Ruth at the Jocelyn Center in Burbank where she would play bridge everyday. Leno tried to get a date with 102-year-old Ruth, who rebuffed him saying, 'I'm too old to date him.'
According to Betty, more than 20 of Ruth's friends and family will be attending her birthday party. When asked about her secret to longevity, she put it in very simple terms.
"I love people, I love life and I love the Dodgers," said Ruth. "The Dodgers actually come first and then the others come after."
At 107, Ruth Smith still has her priorities in order.
Ben Platt is a national correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.