Pirates usher retires after 81 years on job

99-year-old Coyne has worked approximately 6,000 games in Pittsburgh

April 6th, 2018

PITTSBURGH -- After 81 years as an usher, Phil Coyne has worked his last Pirates game. The 99-year-old, an instantly recognizable figure around PNC Park, decided to retire.

Coyne worked approximately 6,000 games in Pittsburgh since 1936, following the Bucs from Forbes Field to Three Rivers Stadium to PNC Park, where he covered sections 26 and 27 along the left-field line. He was even in the stands when Babe Ruth hit the final three home runs of his career in 1935.

The Pirates plan to honor Coyne on April 27, before their game against the Cardinals, with a ceremony in celebration of his 100th birthday.

"Legends never really retire. Having worked his first Pirates game at the age of 18 in 1936, Phil remains No. 1 on our organizational seniority list and will always have a place on our team," Pirates president Frank Coonelly said in a statement. "If Phil has indeed worked his last Pirates game, he has served our fans with incredible grace and distinction, and he certainly has earned the right to watch Pirates games with his feet up from the comfort of his easy chair. We very much look forward to April 27, when Phil and nearly 200 of his family and friends will be our guests as we celebrate Phil's 100th birthday during a special pregame ceremony."

Last year, the Pirates celebrated Coyne's 99th birthday at the ballpark. They even printed a personalized, No. 99 Pirates jersey for their beloved usher. The city of Pittsburgh took it a step further by declaring Aug. 29 to be Phil Coyne Day.

"Phil's a legend, to put it simply," councilmember Dan Gilman said at the time.

How else can you describe Coyne? He was born in 1918, half a year before the end of World War I. He grew up in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood, where he still lives. He was there for World Series Game 7 in 1960, set up behind the Yankees dugout when Bill Mazeroski made history.

His only extended break from working games came when he went to fight in World War II. Last year, he said he hoped to return for his 82nd year at the ballpark. Why stop now? Coyne told The Incline on Thursday that he fell two weeks ago and has struggled with his balance for months.

"I'll miss it," Coyne told The Incline. "I have the radio, and I can hear the whole thing. But it was impossible to come back this year.

"I'm sad. I tried to make it to 100, but I just couldn't make it. It'll be sad, and I'll try to make games and go over and see everybody and see my people when I can."