Despite becoming a centenarian three years ago, Hilton Head Island resident Frank Ventre has no plans to slow down.
The Syracuse, N.Y., native celebrates 103 years Tuesday. Ventre's friends and daughter said at a gathering for him Friday that exercise, good genes and a sense of humor all factor into his longevity.
At 102, Ventre's more active than most men a quarter of his age, taking five to six trips to the gym per week, along with a weekly round of golf.
"When I reached 100, I was surprised," Ventre said, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, beaded necklace with the No. 103 and plush birthday cake hat briefly perched atop his head. "I never thought I'd go this far. But if I've lived this long, I think I can go another year. I never give up."
"He's a good sport. Fun, personable, active and very positive," friend Helen Xenakis said at a potluck luncheon at the island's SHARE Senior Center celebrating Ventre's upcoming birthday.
An avid Yankees fan, Ventre plans to celebrate his 103rd by traveling with family to Atlanta to see his team play the Braves.
Ventre recalls each of the Yankees' 27 World Series titles and has seen virtually every Yankee great -- and outlived many of them -- as well as two Yankee Stadiums.
He recalls watching Gehrig, Mantle and DiMaggio, and even Babe Ruth, who he once saw strikeout three times in a game played in Syracuse.
Two years ago Ventre was invited as a special guest for the Yankees' Old Timers' Day festivities and an afternoon game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
He watched his favorite player, Derek Jeter, from the dugout and met Yankee Hall of Famer Whitey Ford
"It was unbelievable," Ventre said.
Though next week's trip will be less momentous, the New York native can't wait.
"They lost last time to Tampa, that means they'll win this time," said daughter Anne Marie Scarminach, who has lived on Hilton Head since 1973 and persuaded her father to move to the island about six years ago.
Does he plan to see World Series title No. 28?
"I hope so," Ventre said, smiling.