YORK, Pa. (AP) — Now 102 years old, Catherine Hoffman lives alone in a room at Springwood Overlook in York Township. Her husband, Samuel Hoffman, died 30 years ago. Her daughter, Leeanna, died 12 years ago.
"When you get older, it's difficult," she said. "I lost all my good friends. They're all gone. In here, if you make friends they're gone before too long. You get to know them and like them, and then they're gone."
One constant, however, has been her team, her boys -- the Philadelphia Phillies.
She sits in a recliner most nights, wearing earrings and with her white hair set perfectly, cheering a team she has followed for about 70 years.
Framed snapshots of grandchildren and great grandchildren are arranged around the room, as are several angel figurines. She has arranged a row of bobble-type figurines along her windowsill. Yellow plastic ducks and plastic potted flowers wave back and forth as if moved by the wind. Her walker is wrapped with a thin strand of Christmas lights. On the arm rest of her loveseat she has placed a plush Phillie Phanatic.
The link to her team has always been through television. Her husband worked in a shop that sold television sets, and the two of them followed the Phillies since "whenever we could watch them on TV."
Hoffman believes they started watching the Phillies on television in the 1940s; they were, in fact, on one of the first families with access to a TV in their neighborhood.
Questioned why she doesn't follow the Baltimore Orioles -- after all, it seems most of York County has strong ties to the team located down Interstate 83 -- Hoffman looked confused.
She thinks she started following the Phillies before the Orioles even existed. She asks if that's possible. And she's right. The current version of the Orioles didn't arrive in Baltimore until 1954.
She's joined most nights in her room by friend Lona Dubs.
"Even though I'm not wild about baseball I go to watch, because she's so into it," Dubs said.
A picture from a Phillies calendar of her favorite player, Ryan Howard, rests next to Hoffman's recliner.
She holds up the picture and points at his face: "There's just something about the way he bats. ... He's my man."
Anna Catherine Leeper attended her first day of school more than 95 years ago. At the end of the day she returned home, and her mother wanted to know how she liked it.
One thing struck her as a child.
Every student seemed to have one name, while she went by two: Anna Catherine.
Her mother asked her which name she liked better, and the two decided to make a change. Ever since, she has gone by Catherine.
"She was a good mother. She let me drop the name 'Anna,' which was her name," she recalled.
It's been a difficult year to be a Phillies fan.
Hoffman has watched as her favorite player, Howard, missed the majority of the season with a knee injury. She watched the Phillies fire longtime manager Charlie Manuel.
"I thought this year was terrible," she said, "and picking on that guy that runs the team."
Still, it's not so much about wins and losses. It's about the Phillies being her team.
Dubs said she knows Hoffman typically goes to bed around 9 p.m., but learned that she stayed up until midnight watching the Phillies' recent 18-inning game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"I like to watch the whole game through," Hoffman said. "Just because they're losing, I'm not one to quit."
Hoffman attended school through the eighth grade, dropping out at age 14 — same as almost every girl she knew in the York City School District.
"Girls just didn't graduate then. You were done (at 14)," Hoffman said.
She lived through the Great Depression in York, shaking her head at the memory of it.
"Oh God, you never forget any of it," she said. "You just didn't have enough of anything."
She remembers pushing a wagon with her brother through the city to a place where families could receive free fruit. She remembers living at a place on Allison Street, where her family paid $10 a month for rent. They moved to a house on Clark Avenue, opting to pay $11 a month in rent because it included a bathroom.
"No one had a bathroom — except rich people," Hoffman said.
Not all of her friends are gone. Although she's lost many friends, Hoffman remains friends with Ginny Freed.
Together, they worked in the York Suburban School District for many years. Hoffman spent 26 years working as the school cafeteria baker. Freed, 94, made all the soup.
Before that, Hoffman worked at T.E. Brooks cigar factory located on the corner of Poplar and Dewey streets for 25 years. She ran a machine that rolled cigars.
Nowadays, she plays bingo on Monday nights. She struggles sometimes to come up with names even though it seems locked in her head. ("See, that's what happens when you're 102," she said laughing.) She still has links around the area. Her three grandchildren and three great grandchildren visit her.
Another link outside her apartment comes from the Phillies. Watching the games creates memories, and it rekindles thoughts of summers past. She's connected through her large, flatscreen Toshiba.
Watching a recent afternoon game, the broadcast featured a shot of people sitting in the sand watching the Phillies game on a large video screen on the beach in Atlantic City.
"Those are the things I miss," she said, not turning her gaze from the image on the screen, "going to all these different places."
Information from: York Daily Record, http://www.ydr.com