Legendary Pirates usher celebrates 96th birthday

by: Alby Oxenreiter Updated:

PITTSBURGH - A Pittsburgh sports legend celebrated a special day Sunday. PNC Park usher Phil Coyne turned 96 years old.

When I called to wish him a happy birthday, Coyne said, “It’s all luck.”

But when pressed for the secret to a long life, he credited his diet, “two Oreos and a glass of milk every night before bed.” 

Coyne looks a lot like another legend who he knew personally, Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner.

He said people point out the resemblance to "The Flying Dutchman" all the time.

Coyne was born on April 27, 1918, in Oakland. 

He still lives there, and it would be impossible to find anyone who’s done as much for the Pirates for as long as he has. 

His first year as an usher was 1936. To put that in perspective, it was Franklin Roosevelt’s first term in office.

Except for the years he spent serving in World War II, Coyne’s worked for the Pirates continuously through the Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations. That’s 13 U.S. Presidents.

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Unofficially, Coyne has ushered nearly 6,000 games at Forbes Field, Three Rivers Stadium, and PNC Park. 

He said he’ll continue to work as long as his health holds out, and said the only other reason he’ll quit is if he “goes to Heinz Field (by mistake) instead of PNC Park.” 

Coyne never married, but boasts that he "gets more hugs and kisses now than ever before." 

A baseball legend can earn a reputation by hitting home runs, stealing bases or making over-the-shoulder basket catches. Others do it with an easy smile, a hearty laugh, a quick wit, and the kind of longevity that is simply awe-inspiring.  

You can find this legend in the box seats along the first base line at PNC Park. Sections 26 and 27.  Every single game.  

96 years, 79 seasons, and counting! Happy birthday to a Pittsburgh original.