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Gov. Kasich backs Cincinnati Reds during MLB playoff push

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    Before signing a $62 billion, two-year budget into law tonight, Gov. John Kasich used his line-item veto pen to strike language seen as a barrier to progress on expanding Medicaid while talks continue on the broader expansion the governor has sought.

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COLUMBUS — John Kasich grew up in McKees Rocks, Pa. in the shadow of Pittsburgh steel mills, dreaming of going to the plate for the Pittsburgh Pirates, wearing personal hero Roberto Clemente’s number, 21, to Forbes Field, and watching as his mother cried when the baseball legend was killed.

“When the Pirates won the 1960 World Series in stirring fashion, my mother knew what it meant to me to take the bus downtown to be a part of the celebration,” he wrote in his 2006 book, Standing for Something.

“I was all of eight years old, and we muscled our way through the crowd and even managed to get Bill Mazeroski’s autograph on a baseball, creating a memory I didn’t think I had any right to seek,” he wrote.

As recently as last year he wrote to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. to urge the inclusion of Al Oliver, the Portsmouth, Ohio native and Pirates outfielder through much of the 70s. He was on the 1971 World Championship team.

When the Buc and Cincinnati Reds square off on Tuesday in a one-day wild card showdown, now Ohio Gov. John Kasich, 61, won’t be praying for his once-beloved Pirates to win the World Series as he did as an 8-year-old.

He’s called Ohio home since he moved to Columbus 43 years ago to attend Ohio State University.

“He is an Ohioan,” spokesman Rob Nichols said. “He’d be delighted if the Reds win, and there’s no bigger Reds fan in Reds Nation than his wife, the first lady [Karen].”

The two teams, which have been pretty evenly matched all season, are playing their final three-game series this weekend at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The series will decide who will have home-field advantage on Tuesday and serve as a preview to the single playoff game.

Mr. Nichols said he knows of no talk of a friendly wager between the governor and his Pennsylvania counterpart and fellow Republican, Gov. Tom Corbett.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

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