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Leyland returns to Ohio

October 21, 1997

PERRYSBURG, Ohio (AP) _ He’s coming home _ sort of.

Florida Marlins manager Jim Leyland grew up in this city, 100 miles west of Cleveland, where the Marlins face the Indians tonight in the third game of the World Series. The series is tied 1-1.

Leyland still has close ties to this community of 15,000.

His mother and one of his brothers live in Perrysburg. Another brother lives in Toledo. Family members plan to attend Game 3.

The football complex at Perrysburg High School is named Jim Leyland Athletic Field.

``He’s a local boy who made it big,″ Bob Kanarowski, 32, said. ``Everybody’s proud of him. He’s put us on the map.″

It’s also created a dilemma for some Indians fan.

``I want to root for the Marlins because of Jimmy, but ... ″ said Tom Frankovich, 41, ``I’ve got to root for the Indians. I’ve been rooting for them forever.″

Many people in the community know Leyland, who graduated from Perrysburg High School in 1962.

Ned Hoffman grew up with Leyland. Hoffman said they are still friends and play golf when Leyland visits.

Leyland, 52, was on the school’s baseball, football and basketball teams.

His former football coach, Jack Donaldson, remembers Leyland as ``being good at everything. If he wasn’t, he would practice until he was,″ he said.

Donaldson said Leyland, a quarterback and placekicker, showed his determination during an important Northern Lakes League football game against Genoa in 1961. The score was tied 6-6 when Perrysburg drove to Genoa’s 14-yard line with 16 seconds left in the game. At the time, there was a heavy fog.

He told Leyland to kick a field goal _ even though the team had never practiced field goals. At first, Leyland protested. Then he ran onto the field and kicked the winning field goal.

``Somehow, he got the kids lined up and holding until he could get the kick off,″ Donaldson said. ``We didn’t know if he made it until we saw an official running out of the fog with his arms up.″

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