Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Zillbilly Losing Battle to Cancer

One of the fixtures at Orioles games for the past 17 season has been an usher in one of the sections on the club level who dresses in county (or hillbilly) garb with a fiddle and plays along with the seventh inning stretch music. I myself, have enjoyed watching his antics as he incites the crowd and creates joy among those in attendance at the games. He always seemed to be there leading the section in singing along to the song--Thank God I'm a Country Boy by John Denver.

Kevin Cowherd writing in the Baltimore Sun reported yesterday that his run is all but over. The usher, Charlie Zill, has stage four lung cancer. His days as an usher are over and his hope now is to see one or two more Orioles games in person as a spectator. He is hoping for a miracle as, according to the article, he was just evaluated for hospice.

I have never met Charlie in person, but I, like many thousands of others, have smiled and enjoyed his enthusiasm for life and baseball. They have dubbed his dance the Zillbilly and it was shown on the big screen at the games along with the crowd.

I know that during the seventh inning stretch I will always look to the section where he stood and remember him and his Zillbilly dance. And I will especially remember his final performance during the last playoff game against the Yankees where he willed himself to be Zillbilly, one last time, knowing that it might be his final performance. I was there, unaware of the battle with cancer that he was losing--and he knew it, as he led the sold out crowd in a most magical evening.

I pray that Charlie gets his miracle.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD


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