108-year-old woman tosses out first pitch at Mariners game

SEATTLE - At 108 years of age, Evelyn Jones not only was alive when the Cubs were world champions, she is the oldest person to ever throw out the first pitch at a major league game. With the possible exception of Jamie Moyer.

Jones is a huge Mariners fan, who watches each game at her residence in Woodinville, Washington. And she celebrated her 108th birthday Saturday by tossing out the first pitch before Seattle's game against the Angels at Safeco Field.

In an interesting coincidence, it not only was her birthday, it was the 101st anniversary of Babe Ruth's first major league pitch, which he threw when Jones was 7 years old. Ruth passed away nearly 70 years ago but Jones is still kicking. And throwing.

Looking younger than her age and wearing a Mariners jersey with her name and the number 108 on the back, Jones was escorted onto the field with her daughter, Kay Vea, grandson Brad Vea, and granddaughter Robin Schifferman. She didn't throw from the mound; instead she lobbed the ball to Felix Hernandez near home plate. Hernandez gave her a big hug and presented the ball back. She had a broad, happy smile on her face.

"She and my Dad watched all sports,'' her daughter said. "She loved the Sonics, she loved the Seahawks but she really loved the Mariners. She says, 'I love the Mariners!' She and my Dad never missed games and she still doesn't, which I think is pretty good for 108.''

She grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in eastern Washington where she occasionally drove the wheat truck. She played basketball as a girl - "She was a tomboy,'' her daughter said - and also rode horses. Asked what position she played in basketball, Jones said, "That was a very long time ago!''

Sticking to a good, healthy diet - she always ate home-baked wheat bread rather than store-bought bread -- Jones maintained her fitness so well that she walked three miles a day until she was 96. "Except for Sundays, because there was football on Sundays,'' her grandson said.

Asked what advice she would give for living a long life, Jones replied, "Keep having birthdays.''

The oldest previous person to throw out a first pitch is believed to be Agnes McKee, who tossed a pitch before a Padres game last summer at age 105. The oldest living major leaguer, meanwhile, is Mike Sandlock, who is 99.

In addition to her children, Jones has six grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and four great, great-grandchildren. To give another idea of her age, she was 69 years old when the Mariners played their first game in 1977. Asked to name her favorite Mariners player, she said: "I like them all.''

The real question, however, is whether someone who was alive when the Cubs won the World Series will live long enough to see her Mariners at least reach a World Series."I think so,'' she said optimistically.