Hoist the Jolly Roger, Regis Philbin is an honorary buccaneer.
"I'm a big fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and I'm a big fan of Pittsburgh itself," said Mr. Philbin, who recently began hosting an Embassy Row sports talk production, "Crowd Goes Wild," on the Fox Sports 1 network. It went live Aug. 19 and airs at 5 p.m. here.
While first-week chatter focused mainly on news of the day, NFL preseason and pennant races, Mr. Philbin, 82 and a native of the Bronx, has been outspoken in his love for the unlikely division upstarts. Almost every afternoon on the show, he's managed to get in a rave for the Pirates.
The man who has been seen in more hours of live television than anyone in the medium's history said his infatuation began as a child, when he collected baseball trading cards. Names such as Arky Vaughan and Max Butcher caught his fancy, and while his allegiance has always been with the Yankees -- how could it not? -- he began following Pittsburgh a few years back.
"They're in a very tough division, but I've seen them getting better and better each year. I started following them when I had my ["Live!"] talk show with Kelly [Ripa, from 2001-11]. They were always great in April, and then, at the end of May they would start losing a few games and by June, they're in third place."
Not so this season. Although the race between the Pirates, St. Louis and Cincinnati has been in flux, the excitement it's generated is not lost on a man known for his boosterism of favored teams, particularly Notre Dame.
"The stands, they're packed, and it's an exciting time for the Pittsburgh fans. I'm happy for them."
Yet on Monday's show, Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Gay asked if perhaps the stress of rooting for two teams scrambling to make the playoffs might be too much for him.
"You're right, I've got to give it some second-thinking," Mr. Philbin said.
Could he be breaking up with the Pirates?
"No, no," he said Tuesday in a phone interview. "I'm going to have to drop the Yankees ... I don't think they're going to make it."
Maria Sciullo: email@example.com or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG.