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Legendary Pittsburgh Pirates usher Phil Coyne dies at 102

PITTSBURGH — He started working as an usher, escorting Pittsburgh Pirates fans to their seats, during the Great Depression.

For more than eight decades and 14 presidential administrations, Phil Coyne was a staple of games at Forbes Field, then Three Rivers Stadium and finally PNC Park, before retiring in 2018 at the age of 99.

Coyne, 102, died Friday morning, according to family members.

He started ushering in 1936, the same year the Baseball Hall of Fame inducted player Babe Ruth.

Coyne was well-known inside and outside the ball park, and many affectionately referred to him as “Philly.” When he retired, after his 81st season, the City Council honored him by naming Aug. 29 “Phil Coyne Day” in Pittsburgh.

When Coyne retired, Pirates management said he never missed a day of work. He was also a regular at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oakland...where he served as an usher.

“Phil was and always will be a true Pirates legend. He was a hard-working, passionate family man who proudly served our country as a member of the United States Army during World War II,” said Pirates Chairman Bob Nutting. “Phil was so much more than an usher to us and our fans. As a testament to his life of service to the game of baseball, his Pirates uniform and identification badge remain on permanent display at the National Baseball Hall-of-Fame.”

Coyne’s nephew, Dan Coyne, said his uncle loved fans at the baseball games.

“Philly really was truly grateful for every Pirates fan who ever came up to him and shook his hand, gave him a hug or even asked for an autograph,” Dan Coyne said. “He really loved interacting with the fans and felt the kindness from everyone at the Pirates family over the decades. On behalf of the entire Coyne family, we are thankful for everyone’s support during this time.”