After Jim Thorpe captured gold medals at the 1912 Olympics, Sweden's King Gustav V proclaimed the Oklahoman as the greatest athlete in the world.
Chronicling the sports legend's athletic career from school days to his sports' highest accolades, the Jim Thorpe Museum & Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, 4040 N. Lincoln, honors him and other Oklahoma athletes with an impressive collection of history and memorabilia.
The Thorpe collection includes track and field awards he won as early as 1907 at the age of 19, varsity sports letters from Carlisle Indian School and his Stockholm Olympic certificates. There are also photos of Thorpe as an Olympian and from his days as a professional football and baseball player, and the bust presented to his family in 1963 when Thorpe received pro football's highest honor.
In all, 122 Oklahoma athletes have been honored as members of the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, with another five to be inducted in August, and the hall's collection is a sports-junkie's dream. Personal mementoes from Barry Switzer, Johnny Bench and Mickey Mantle are displayed beside Sean O'Grady's World Boxing Association championship belt and Steve Owens' Heisman Trophy. The collection includes memorabilia from Oklahomans who excelled in every sport, including golf, baseball, football, boxing, wrestling, gymnastics and basketball.
In homage to Thorpe, an award bearing his name is presented annually to the best defensive back in college football, and helmets and jerseys from two decades of Jim Thorpe Award winners are displayed. Several Oklahoma Sooners are represented and even " gasp " a few Texas Longhorns.
The museum also showcases winners of the Warren Spahn Award, given each year to the top left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball. A collection of Oklahoman Spahn's baseball gear is a museum highlight.
The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $5 for adults; seniors 65 and older and children 12 and younger are free. For more information, visit www.jimthorpeassoc.org.
Price writes online at www.travelblur.com.