Sports greats need to be enshrined in local museum

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 17, 2006

I was always told that there were two things you never mention around the dinner table: politics and religion.

Well, in southern Ohio and the Tri-State there is a third no-no that should be added to that list — sports.

Our communities love their sports and they aren’t afraid to tell you about it.

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Confuse an Ironton Fighting Tigers fan with Rock Hill Redmen and you are likely to make some enemies on both sides.

Ask a Fairland Dragon how those Chesapeake Panthers are doing and you are likely to get a snippy response. That equation works the same in reverse.

And don’t even think of accusing an Ohio State fan of being a closet Michigan supporter or you are likely to have a fight on your hands.

This passion for sports has helped create dozens of great athletes and sporting legends from southern Ohio and the rest of the Tri-State.

Don’t you think it is time we come together to truly recognize these individuals right here in their home territory?

Now is the perfect time for Lawrence County to establish a Southern Ohio Sports Museum to memorialize all these sporting legends that the community still holds so dear.

Sports nostalgia is big business and can really help boost the economy of a region. Just ask the residents of a small Ohio town named Canton.

The NFL Hall of Fame has grown so much that Canton has become part of pop culture.

While Lawrence County may not be able to work something on that scale, the area certainly has enough sports heroes that it could fill a museum and become a tourist destination.

Just think, it could have a whole section dedicated to the Waterloo Wonders. The high school team won back-to-back state championships in 1934 and 1935 and was decades ahead of the times with its style of play.

Want to see some memorabilia from Ohio’s second winningest high school football coach? Well, it shouldn’t be too hard to find lots of things Bob Lutz has used in his more than three decades leading the Fighting Tigers to greatness.

The list goes on and on.

The Ironton Tanks are still widely known as a great early professional football team that earned a place in history by stunning two NFL powers in 1930.

And what about Glenn Presnell? Glenn is considered to be one of Ironton’s greatest sports legends. Presnell came out of the University of Nebraska as an All-American in 1927 and had led the nation in rushing. He went on be an All-Pro for the Detroit Lions and a key member of some great Tanks teams.

Most recently, Portsmouth native Chuck Ealey was honored for his efforts at Portsmouth Notre Dame High School and the University of Toledo.

What did he do? Ealey only went 53-0 in his years there and then lead the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats to the CFL title his first season as he was named the league’s Rookie of the Year.

I know I have left out countless legends and heroes that could be recognized in this museum.

Sports fans love reflecting on the glory days and forever celebrating past victories.

Southern Ohio is the perfect place to keep that passion burning and ensuring that these legends never fade away into history.

It may not be safe to talk about sports around the dinner table, but that passion makes this the perfect place to ensure these legends are forever remembered.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at