George Costanza might have never actually worked for the Yankees, but Vinny Costanza is carrying on the Costanza legacy well. The 99-year-old has worked as an usher for 15 spring training seasons with the Yankees organization.
“People kid me because George Costanza is supposed to work for the Yankees, but I really work for the Yankees,” he said.
A job the lifelong Yankees fan is honored to do. This career is one of his many, following a stint as a pilot in WWII and 30 years working for Kraft Foodservice.
Costanza doesn’t speak much about his wartime career, only to say that he considers himself lucky to have made it back home. However, he is more apt to talk about his adventures golfing with Steve Spurrier and the ages of his grandchildren.
His vast experiences over the past 50 years in Florida have made him into a mayor-esque figure at the park. Costanza welcomes babies and old friends to Sunday’s game with the same enthusiasm, these interactions turning into friendships that span lifetimes and cross state lines.
“People call me (from) long-distance to say hello,” he said. “I have friends from Ohio that call me all the time.”
Costanza has met many a fan over his many years at the ballpark, even a few future fans.
“I see children now that I knew their moms when they were pregnant,” he said.
Baseball has always been about the relationships for the usher, from his friendships with his coworkers to meeting kids named after today’s greats like Jeter and Judge.
The game has long been a part of Costanza’s life. He began playing in his boyhood days in Alabama and worshipped Mickey Mantle.
Costanza isn’t as fond of the trade for cash mentality of teams today, scorning the Rays and others for failing to keep their iconic players around, he said. He reminisces on the baseball days of olde, where Mickey Mantle and Hank Greenberg were staple baseball cards and teams kept their stars around as long as possible.
“I saw Babe Ruth hit a home run,” he said.
Today Costanza receives as many requests for pictures and hugs from adoring fans as any popular major leaguer.
“I don’t know if it’s because I’m a WWII veteran or because I’m 99 years old.”