Ohio gov says ex-Pirate should be in Hall of Fame


PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich's letter in support of Portsmouth native and former Pittsburgh Pirates star Al Oliver is being added to the materials available to committees that consider candidates for the Baseball Hall of Fame, according to the hall.

Kasich wrote to the hall in October and highlighted some of Oliver's accomplishments on and off the field, including noteworthy athletic statistics and his efforts to fight poverty and pervasive drug use in his southern Ohio hometown.

"In my opinion, Al Oliver the man is even more impressive than the sum of his historic career stats," Kasich wrote.

Oliver told the Portsmouth Daily Times (http://bit.ly/QpovoY ) he first met Kasich recently at a Habitat for Humanity house in southern Ohio. He said they talked about baseball and former Pittsburgh standout right fielder Roberto Clemente, who was elected to the Hall of Fame.

Oliver said Kasich indicated he believed Oliver also should be part of the Hall of Fame and asked outright whether he belongs there.

"It was a direct question and it had to be a direct answer, and I said, 'Governor, I do,'" Oliver told the newspaper.

Oliver said he's pleased that Kasich then sent the letter of support.

"First of all, I have to give the governor credit for following up on what he said," Oliver said. "Because in this life, you meet people who promise you a lot of things, but they don't come through."

Oliver said he and Kasich have acquaintances in common from the governor's hometown of McKees Rocks, a few miles outside of Pittsburgh.

"Some of my best friends are from the same place that he's from," Oliver said. "And I feel honored about it."

The Hall of Fame said Kasich's letter will be added to materials available to the committees that consider candidates for induction.

Oliver played in the major leagues for 18 seasons. He was part of seven All-Star teams between 1972 and 1983 and won a batting title in 1982 with a batting average of .331.


Information from: Portsmouth Daily Times, http://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com