For Charlie Zill, the extremely popular Baltimore Orioles usher who came to be known as the "Zillbilly" in section 244 of Camden Yards, one treatment has helped more than the others in combatting his stage 4 lung cancer.
It wasn't ginseng or any of the special teas people brought him. Zill also underwent chemotherapy, but even that had its limits. In fact, Zill's preferred remedy wasn't prescribed by a doctor.
"Doing that job the last three years," Zill told Kevin Cowherd of the Baltimore Sun, "that was medicine for me."
Zill started working as an usher in 1995, and a few years later he debuted his Zillbilly routine. As you can see in the video below, Zill broke out a straw hat, overalls, a violin and even fake teeth to dance along with John Denver's "Country Boy" when it was played in the seventh inning (a Baltimore tradition). Zill is also a professional magician, and he would do tricks between innings or during rain delays.
Three and a half years ago, Zill was diagnosed with lung cancer. Never a smoker, Zill was shocked to hear the prognosis. Doctors told him he had a year to live.
While undergoing chemotherapy, Zill kept working at Camden Yards. Some days he was so weary that he wasn't sure he would be able to make it through the game. But he persevered, and even worked at last season's ALDS between the Orioles and the Yankees.
Zill's condition has worsened, and he was forced to stop chemotherapy. He told Cowherd that his lung capacity is at 20 percent of what it once was. There's not much Zill can do now, except reflect on the good times and hope that one day soon, he'll feel good enough to return.
"If a miracle comes along," Zill told Cowherd. "I will return. It's got to be a miracle, because I'm not being treated now."
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