112-year-old’s first visit to Guaranteed Rate Field includes greetings from Hall-of-Famer Harold Baines
by Carrie Steinweg
CHICAGO, Ill. (September 13, 2019) – When you get to be 112 years old, it’s a good reason to have more than one birthday party. Lansing’s most famous resident these days is CP Crawford, who has called Tri-State Nursing and Rehabilitation Center home for the past seven years. He turned 112 last month and celebrated his August 25 birthday with a party attended by Village officials and covered by Chicago television news outlets.
At the party, he was also joined by Dolton Village Trustee and community activist Andrew Holmes, who is also the executive director of the non-profit Club 100, an organization that that celebrates centenarians in the Chicago area and Northwest Indiana. Holmes’ birthday gift to Crawford was some White Sox gear. In conversation that day, Crawford told Holmes that he was a White Sox fan but had never been to a game at Guaranteed Rate Field. Holmes promised Crawford he’d get him there.
When Holmes showed up on September 12 with a limousine, he told Crawford they were just going for a ride. “We kept it a secret,” said Holmes. “We didn’t tell him where he was really going. He didn’t know until we got there. And when I told him we were at the White Sox game, he got a big smile on his face. It’s all about making him happy.”
But the surprise didn’t end there. The White Sox organization had an exciting day planned for Crawford, who was on the field for pre-game activities and greeted by Hall-of-Famer Harold Baines, who presented him with a custom jersey that had Crawford’s name on the back with the the number 112.
From there he was taken to the Guaranteed Rate Club for a birthday party in his honor. He enjoyed a buffet and watched a few innings from the club seating. When a fan a couple rows up snagged a foul ball, he passed it back to the birthday boy, who smiled and rolled the ball around and around between his fingers. Crawford was also recognized on the scoreboard during the game and received more gifts from former White Sox first-baseman Mike Squires.
Accompanying Crawford to the game were Tri-State Activity Director Shiela Huff and Activity Aide Jaquita Philllips, who laughed and nodded when Crawford was offered water and requested his favorite soda, Orange Crush. “Yep, that’s his favorite,” said Huff.
When asked what he thought of the Cubs, “They’re good, but I always thought the White Sox were the best,” he replied. “Chicago is my home.”
He talked about working for Illinois Central Railroad and declined an offer for a hot dog in favor of some birthday cake, a multi-layered rainbow cake with his photo on it.
Helen Riley, a Club 100 board member, also attended the celebration. She said that the mission of the organization is “to enhance the quality of life for those that are 100 or older.” At this year’s annual celebration event there were more than 30 centenarians in attendance. The organization recently also expanded to add a Club 99 for those who are almost at the century mark.
“We want to honor their lives and show them the respect they deserve and help them have a good time,” said Riley.
Crawford is believed to be the oldest living male in the country, although his age has not been confirmed by the Gerontology Research Group (GRG), an organization that in 1997 started maintaining and verifying records of supercentenarians, or those who live past the age of 110. Verification typically happens through a process of presenting several sources of confirmative paperwork and a request by family to be recognized. To date, the GRG hasn’t received a request of verification for Crawford.
Documentation may be difficult to find in Crawford’s case—there are records for a CP Crawford for the 1910 census in Jackson, Mississippi, where Crawford was born in 1907, but Mississippi didn’t start officially issuing birth certificates and keeping a statewide registry until 1912. School records can help to verify age, but Crawford didn’t attend school. Social Security records can also be a source of verification, but those don’t become available to the public until several years after a person’s death. Although there’s been no formal verification process so far, Robert Young, Director of Supercentenarian Research and Database Division with the GRG, and Senior Consultant for Gerontology for Guinness World Records, said there’s a “good chance” that CP Crawford is the oldest living male in the United States and one of the oldest living males in the world.
He was one in a family of six children that were separated after his mother died when he was an infant. He wasn’t able to attend school and began working in the cotton fields as a young child. He came to the Chicago area in 1925.
All around the ballpark, Crawford drew a lot of attention and received well-wishes from those who learned about his recent birthday. As his group headed for the elevator to leave, he was stopped by a couple asking for a photo with him. One of them was Joey Belladonna, former lead singer of the Grammy-nominated metal band Anthrax, which originated in the 1980s.
“I’ve been around and I have met some wonderful people,” said Crawford. “I’m happy to be here.”
- Lansing’s CP Crawford turns 112 (August 25 article)