Longtime Orioles usher Charlie Zill dies

Zill had been battling lung cancer

BALTIMORE -  

Longtime Orioles' usher Charlie Zill has died after a four-year fight with lung cancer.
 
Zill's wife confirmed that he died on Sunday night.
 
Known to his fans as "Zillbilly," Zill was an usher at Camden Yards for 17 seasons.
 
The Orioles released the following statement Monday afternoon.
 
"We are saddened to learn of Charlie Zill's passing. Since 1997 Charlie was a fixture at Oriole Park, entertaining millions of fans during the seventh inning stretch as his "Zillbilly" character. Over the last several years his determination and positive attitude served as an inspiration for so many as he continued to work in spite of his illness. He will be deeply missed, and we extend our condolences to his family."
 
How did Zillbilly start?
 
"I was playing around one game and put in the teeth," Zill said in an interview with ABC2's Charley Crowson. "I had on a pair of suspenders and turned my hat sideways. I started dancing around, and people seemed to like it." 
 
An usher at Camden Yards for 17 seasons, Zill followed his passion for the Orioles that dated back to days spent at games with his uncle.
 
"He was like a mentor to me," Zill said. "Ever since then, I wanted to work for the Orioles." 
 
Zill got that chance in 1996, quickly becoming a favorite around the yard. "It's a privilege to work for the orioles," he said.
 
Then, in 1998, after a little coaxing from fans, the Zill Billy was born.
 
"I'd never have done this if it wasn't for them," Zill said. "They created me and got me to do this."
 
Zill kept the tradition going season after season, adding new steps and costume pieces along the way. "Each season, I tried to add something to make it better."
Then in 2009, his life took a dramatic and irreversible turn when he found out he had lung cancer. 
 
He was given a year to live, and lived four years more.  In that time, Zill decided to keep dancing and thrilling the crowd as long as his body would let him. 
 
Read more about Zill here .
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