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Longtime sports organist Vince Lascheid dead at 85

| Friday, March 20, 2009

Vince Lascheid touched thousands of Pittsburgh sports fans, whether they knew him or not.

Lascheid, the longtime organist for the Pirates and Penguins, died overnight, his daughter said. He was 85.

"He was a fixture," said Penguins spokesman Tom McMillan. "He was a Pittsburgh original."

Lascheid worked for the Penguins from 1970 to 2003, McMillan said. The franchise inducted him into its hall of fame in 2003.

Lascheid still worked part-time for the Pirates, according to Eric Wolff, Pirates manager of in-game entertainment. The team honored him in 2005 with its Pride of the Pirates Award, which recognizes outstanding service to members of the franchise. Lascheid will be listed as the team's organist for the upcoming season, Wolff said.

Lascheid also played the organ at his church, St. Bernard in Mt. Lebanon, for 20 years and enjoyed giving piano and organ lessons, said his daughter, Mindy Lascheid-McKee of Bridgeville.

"He was awesome with a capital 'A,' " she said. "He was a very humble man. He didn't like a lot of attention, he just enjoyed giving back."

Lascheid-McKee said she remembers her father sitting at the kitchen table at the beginning of each baseball season composing songs for every Pirates player.

He did the same for the hockey season, McMillan said.

"Vince always had songs to get under the skin of opposing players," he said. "That was back before Jumbotrons, when organs were the sole piece of entertainment. He was the best."

McMillan fondly remembered times when Lascheid would play "Three Blind Mice" when the referees would take the ice.

"The league made him stop," he said.

"It's hard because when someone passes away, people say he was a one-of-a-kind guy, but with Vince, he truly was," Wolff said. "Not only was he an incredible and talented musician, he was such a great friend."

The Penguins will honor Lascheid with a moment of silence before tonight's game at Mellon Arena, McMillan said.

"It was an honor," he said, "to have him in Pittsburgh for us."

Lascheid is survived by his wife of 60 years, Linda, and four children. A daughter, Nancy, died on Sept. 11, 2000.

Visitation is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Laughlin Memorial Chapel in Mt. Lebanon. A mass of Christian burial will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Bernard Church in Mt. Lebanon.

The family requests donations be made to the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, 300 E. Swissvale Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15218. Condolences also may be sent to Pirates charities in honor of Vince Lascheid.

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