99-year-old Pirates usher retires after 81 seasons and 6,000 games

Mark TownsendYahoo Sports Contributor
Big League Stew

If you’ve been to a Pirates home game at any point during the last 81 seasons, there’s a good chance you’ve met Phil Coyne. The 99-year-old usher has worked an estimated 6,000 Pirates games at three different ballparks, beginning his career at Forbes Field in 1936, before making the move to Three Rivers Stadium and now PNC Park.

Unfortunately, Coyne has officially worked his final game. The Pirates confirmed as much Friday, announcing that Coyne has retired after suffering a recent fall.

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The Pirates will now honor Coyne with a ceremony before their game against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 27, which will be his 100th birthday.

“Legends never really retire, Pirates president Frank Coonelly said in a statement Friday. “Having worked his first Pirates game at the age of 18 in 1936, Phil remains number one on our organizational seniority list and will always have a place on our team. 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 pre-game ceremony.”

Just to put into perspective the longevity Coyne has enjoyed, here’s a quick look at the baseball landscape when he worked his first game.

Throughout his years, Coyne has witnessed some of baseball’s greatest legends, including Babe Ruth, Roberto Clemente and Barry Bonds.

As many fans have noted, Hall of Famer Honus Wagner worked as a Pirates coach until 1952. That really highlights the number of generations Coyne’s career has spanned and the incredible amount of baseball legends he’s been able to interact with.

Pittsburgh Pirates president Frank Coonelly (left) honors usher Phil Coyne on his 99th birthday before an April 27, 2017 game at PNC Park. (AP)
Pittsburgh Pirates president Frank Coonelly (left) honors usher Phil Coyne on his 99th birthday before an April 27, 2017 game at PNC Park. (AP)

Coyne’s also experienced nearly every defining moment in Pirates history, including Bill Mazerowski’s walk-off home run in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. And all who know him agree that he did it with an unwavering passion that is still evident even as he walks away.

What an amazing career.

What an amazing life.

Enjoy retirement, Mr. Coyne.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Yahoo Sports Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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