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Harbaugh discusses roots in Toledo, northwest Ohio

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University of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh holds the key to the City of Toledo before speaking at Thursday's ABLE Access to Justice awards dinner.

The Blade/Kurt Steiss
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Tony Packo’s, the Toledo Mud Hens, Ay Ziggy Zoomba — it was a northwest Ohio paradise on Thursday for Toledo native Jim Harbaugh.

The Michigan football coach was in town to serve as the keynote speaker for Advocates for Basic Equality and Legal Aid of Western Ohio’s Access to Justice Awards Dinner at the SeaGate Centre, where he was presented with a glass key to the city by Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz.

In the afternoon, Harbaugh stopped by Tony Packo’s to scarf down two Hungarian hot dogs and fried pickles.

“It was tremendous,” he said. “Big fan of M*A*S*H back in the day, Jamie Farr.”

VIDEO: Jim Harbaugh discusses his Toledo roots

Harbaugh donned a Toledo Mud Hens hat during an hour-long Q-and-A segment at the dinner, which raised $100,000 for ABLE, LAWO, and the Toledo Bar Association, a $40,000 increase from last year’s event. More than 800 tickets were sold.

“It’s on my football card. Way back when I had a football card, they had me fill out the questionnaire, where was your birthplace? Toledo, Ohio,” said Harbaugh, who was born in the old Mercy Hospital, which is also the same birthsite as Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.

Harbaugh’s father, Jack, was the head coach at Perrysburg High School when Jim was born in 1963. From 1968 to 1970, Jack was an assistant coach at Bowling Green State University.

“I remember Bowling Green very well,” Harbaugh said. “I remember our neighbor. I remember being able to ride my bike to school as a kindergartner. There’s no way my kindergartner would ride his bike to school now. I rode my bike to school every day. It was great. Both my mom and dad went to Bowling Green. We have great love for BGSU.”

Jim and Jack proved their adulation later in the evening with a full-throated rendition of the Falcons’ unofficial fight song, “Ay Ziggy Zoomba.”

VIDEO: Jim and Jack Harbaugh sing Ay Ziggy Zoomba

“Every time I drive by Toledo or go across the Maumee River or go through Perrysburg, those feelings get evoked, I feel that connection,” Harbaugh said. “I’m proud to say I'm from [here], I was born [here].”

Contact Kyle Rowland at krowland@theblade.com, 419-724-6110 or on Twitter @KyleRowland.

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