Tick­et­taker cel­e­brates 50 years

The Buffalo News - - SPORTS - By Vic Carucci NEWS SPORTS RE­PORTER

Jack Birner was there, at the old Rock Pile, fol­low­ing in his fa­ther’s foot­steps as a ticket-taker for Buf­falo Bills games when he was a se­nior at Turner High School.

He was there in 1973, when the fa­cil­ity in Or­chard Park opened as Rich Sta­dium.

He con­tin­ued to be there when it was known as Ralph Wil­son Sta­dium, and then took on its cur­rent name of New Era Field.

Birner, 67, will be there Sun­day, when the Bills face the New York Jets.

He’s cel­e­brat­ing 50 years of work­ing with the Bills. And of all the “tak­ing” he has done dur­ing that time, he said his big­gest take-away was meet­ing his wife, Char­lene, who has done the same job as her hus­band for the past 34 years.

On Fri­day, the Bills pre­sented Birner with a framed jersey with his name on it and the num­ber 50 in gold.

Coach Sean McDer­mott and Gen­eral Man­ager Bran­don Beane vis­ited with Birner and his wife af­ter prac­tice at the club’s in­door fa­cil­ity.

“I’ve made life-long friend­ships out here,” said Birner, who spent 30 years work­ing at the West Seneca De­vel­op­ment Cen­ter and was a ticket-taker at Buf­falo Me­mo­rial Au­di­to­rium work­ing Sabres and Braves games. “I gave up (work­ing Sabres and Braves games), but it’s tough to give up the Bills. You’re still a fan.”

Birner is the sec­ond em­ployee to work for the Bills for 50 years.

Last year, May­nard Bunn was hon­ored for be­com­ing the first. NFL

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