Bill Hogan doesn’t take any special vitamins and kale is not a mainstay of his diet.
But on Saturday, the lifelong Red Sox fan will celebrate his 100th birthday; and on that day, he’ll throw out the first pitch to commemorate the 100th birthday of Fenway Park.
Hogan is svelte and quick-witted, with an enviable memory and 18 great-grandchildren — all of whom will be at the Boston ballpark Saturday to join in the festivities.
Hogan’s secrets for longevity? Stand-up comedy, good genes, regular work-outs, lots of interesting friends and looking forward to the future.
“I do look forward to every day,” Hogan said in an interview. “Tomorrow, I’ll be 100…and Fenway is 100. I am looking forward to that.”
Born in Cambridge, Mass., Hogan attended Harvard Law School and had a long career as general counsel for New England Telephone. When his wife died 14 years ago, he moved to his own apartment in an assisted living facility in Lexington, Mass. where he now has a packed social calendar with poker games, bridge nights and lunch and dinner dates. Improv nights are a high point. “Last week, he did a five-minute standup routine at a comedy improv night,” one of his grandchildren, Austin O’Connor wrote in a loving profile published on the AARP website. “He says he killed.”
Hogan, who does have a glass of wine now and then, but otherwise follows no special diet, says he’s thought a lot about how he made it to 100. “I’ve done regular exercise all my life,” he says. “But I also have a feeling of sociability. I like people, I’m part of activities.”
He adds that he’s done extensive research on his family’s medical history and adjusted his behavior accordingly–for instance, getting regular colonoscopies after discovering colon cancer among relatives.
One grandchild says Hogan is almost annoyingly upbeat and always looking forward to some activity or another, whether it’s the 90th birthday party he threw for himself or practicing pitches with Jason, his young trainer at the assisted living facility.
It helps to have a sturdy, highly functional mind. Here’s one Fenway memory, for instance:
“I was there on a quiet, misty kind of day,” Hogan recalls. “Ted Williams suddenly hit a typical home run and went jogging into the dugout. And that was the last time, that was it. It was the last time he ever went to bat.”
But Hogan’s memory stretches back even further, his grandson writes:
Ask him about his childhood and he’ll reel off the names of the kids he walked to grammar school with, or the Cambridge fireman who would open a hydrant on cold winter days to flood the local playground and turn it into a pickup hockey rink. He remembers the exact route he’d take — a walk, a streetcar, another walk — to get to his high school, Cambridge Latin. He remembers the day he met Agnes McHugh, my grandmother. And he remembers the name of the mutual friend she was visiting when he first laid eyes on her, and where they went on their first date.
A Red Sox fan fan since the 1920s, Hogan spews back stats from 1941, correcting Jason, the young trainer, when he notes that “even though Ted Williams hit .400 that year, he didn’t get MVP.” Hogan quickly retorts: “Williams hit .406.”
To prepare for Saturday’s game, Hogan trained three times a week: working the weight machines and his pitch.
“The difficulty in getting distance is not my arm,” he says. “It’s the balance in your left leg when you take a big step.”
After his birthday tomorrow, Hogan will return to his one-bedroom apartment and busy social schedule. More than anything, it seems, his secret is simply to enjoy the life he has. “It’s very nice,” he says, “to still be here.”