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Pirates honor 99-year-old usher Phil Coyne for 81 years of service (pic/vid)

The Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night paid tribute to longtime usher Phil Coyne, who was celebrating his 99th birthday.

That’s right, the Pirates have an usher at PNC Park who is now 99 years old. Even more impressive? Coyne has been employed by the organization for an astounding 81 years.

Coyne was honored during a pregame ceremony, during which Pirates team president Frank Coonelly presented him with a custom Pirates jersey bearing his name and the number 99.

Interestingly, Coyne received a No. 90 jersey nine years ago as well.

“We could all sit back, whether it’s 80 years or 10 years that we’ve been going to the same job, and bring that type of joy and newness and freshness that he brings to the job every single day,” Coonelly said.

The notion of why the Pirates didn’t wait until next year to mark his centenary milestone?

“Maybe they think I’m not going to make 100,” Coyne joked.

A fascinating profile of Coyne by Sarah K. Spencer for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, notes how the longtime usher has seen it all in Pirates lore, highlighted by Bill Mazerowski’s walk-off home run on Oct. 13, 1960 in Game 7 of the World Series.

Coyne recalled the moment all these years later.

“We were supposed to keep people off the field,” he said. “I just turned around and went back. I let them go.”

After starting his lengthy employment with the Pirates as an 18-year-old at Forbes Field in 1936, Coyne followed the team to Three Rivers Stadium in 1970 and PNC Park in 2001.

Coyne, who oversees is Sections 26 and 27 along the the third-base line, explained how he has managed to get on all these years as an usher.

“I try to be good to everybody,” Coyne said. “Everybody’s been good to me.”

[Big League Stew]