When Celestine Zambino talks about her Phillies, her warm smile lights up the living room of her South Philadelphia rowhouse and she doesn't look anywhere near 100 years old. "I love my Phillies," said the centenarian in the Chase Utley shirt. "Chooch, Rollins, Victorino, Howard — they're my family."
And like family, Zambino said, there are good days and bad days. "That Charlie [Manuel]" she said, focusing on the folksy manager. "Sometimes, I love him. Sometimes, I curse him. Leaves the pitcher in too long. I'm screaming at the TV. 'Take him out, Charlie!' Charlie's in the dugout, blowing bubbles. Blows too many bubbles."
Zambino's real family, daughters Sandy, 81, and Victoria, 66, who take her to games a couple of times a season and talk Phillies with her every day, laughed.
Once they were having dinner with their mom at Cracker Barrel in Cherry Hill when who should walk in but Charlie Manuel?
"In person," Sandy said, "he's a very nice person."
"Don't he get lockjaw," Zambino asked, "chewing all that gum?"
"Off the field," Victoria said, "he's a doll."
"Too many bubbles," Zambino said, her voice a little hoarse from telling him so many times to take the pitcher out.
Victoria is a housekeeper at a Center City apartment building frequented by Phillies. "I'm on the cellphone with my friend Rene," Victoria said. "Telling her, 'I'm cleaning Chase Utley's apartment, Rene! There's a silver bat in here! I'm having a nervous breakdown! I'm dying, Rene!'?"
"I love watching my Phillies," said Zambino, widow of South Philly boxer Battling George Zambino. "But sometimes, I go crazy over them. I can't watch. I say, 'I'm going to turn them off.' But I don't."