- Associated Press - Saturday, February 19, 2011

SEMINOLE, FLA. (AP) - Helma Graham has been around for all 27 of the New York Yankees‘ World Series championships. Her support for the team is still going strong at age 106.

The lifelong Yankees fan attended her first game at Yankee Stadium in 1925 _ when Miller Huggins was the manager _ on a first date with her future husband George Graham.

“I love watching a ballgame,” Graham said from her home in Seminole, about a 30-minute drive from the Yankees‘ camp in Tampa.

New York vice president Billy Connors heard about Graham through a friend. On Friday night, he brought her a number of Yankees‘ items, including an autographed photo of a favorite player, shortstop Derek Jeter. She was invited to watch a spring training game from a suite at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Her high regard for Jeter is shared with that of another Yankees great, Lou Gehrig, whose farewell speech on July 4, 1939 she witnessed in person.

“He was a nice fellow,” Graham said.

Graham spoke highly about Babe Ruth but his off-the-field activities were something else.

“He was a very good ballplayer,” she said. “But he drank too much.”

Graham, who will turn 107 in June, was born in New York, moved to Secaucus, N.J., in her youth and relocated to Florida in 1989. It’s not uncommon for neighbors to hear her cheer while watching the Yankees on a flat screen TV.

Graham was delighted that Connors brought along his 1996 and 2000 World Series championship rings.

“They’re beautiful,” she said. “They weigh a ton. How do you wear them?”

At one point, she jokingly hid the rings under the Jeter photo, to make Connors think she no longer had them.

All in all, Graham is taking everything in stride. But even she has to marvel at watching the game at 106.

“That’s old, isn’t it?” she said with a laugh.

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