Miami University often is called college football's "Cradle of Coaches."

A Google search for "the birthplace of American football" pulls up stories on Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

There once was a time no pitch was thrown in a Major League Baseball season without one having first been thrown in Cincinnati, home of the Red Stockings, the first professional baseball team.

And as history shows, it's tough to be elected president without winning Ohio.

A new exhibit at the Ohio History Center called Ohio-Champion of Sports aims to show how integral our state has been, is and hopefully continues to be to the world of sports, perhaps more so than one might realize.

LeBron James, Jack Nicklaus and Pete Rose, household names throughout the state for decades, are represented.

So is John Heisman, who introduced the forward pass to football and later had an important college trophy named after him. He was born in Cleveland.

There's Sarah Fisher, a Pickaway County native who was the first woman to earn a pole position in a major American open-wheel auto race and started nine Indianapolis 500s, a record for a female driver.

A placard is devoted to William Ellsworth Hoy, better known in baseball lore as "Dummy," because he played 14 seasons at various levels of the game in spite of meningitis having robbed him of his hearing at age 3. It's certainly insensitive language by modern standards, but that was the nickname -- which is not included in the display -- bestowed on the Hancock County native who lived to age 99.

One can see the contract Larry Doby signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1947, making him the first African-American player in the American League.

All of that is only scratching the surface.

"The artifacts on display provide an important glimpse into our sports history that you cannot see anywhere else," said Burt Logan, Ohio History Connection's executive director.

The exhibit, which was 18 months in the making, is divided into six themes: character, adversity, innovation, identity, tradition and victory.

"Values that are at the core of the human condition," Logan said.

The room devoted to "character" is colored in black and gold. Given the yearlong grassroots fight to #SaveTheCrew that resulted in our Major League Soccer team staying put less than a mile from the museum rather than moving to Austin, Texas, it's appropriate.

It's a great way to reinforce state pride in a state that, other than an almost universal love for Ohio State football, often is fragmented in its loyalties. Try convincing a Clevelander to root for the Bengals or Reds "because they're Ohio teams," and you might be told that they're actually Kentucky teams.

Try convincing University of Cincinnati or Ohio University loyalists that the Buckeyes are the state's team and a rant on the word "The" might follow.

Those regional differences aside, there's little in Ohio-Champion of Sports that even a Michigan fan couldn't admire, except maybe Jim Tressel's autographed Ohio State sweater vest.

Admission to Ohio-Champion of Sports is $12, $10 for those 60 and older, $6 for those ages 4 to 12 and free for any Ohio History Connection members or children 3 and younger. The Ohio History Center is at Interstate 71 and East 17th Avenue in Columbus.

The exhibit will run for almost 18 months, until Sept. 6, 2020. That might seem like a long time, but it's fleeting compared to the enduring impact Ohio has had on athletics at all levels.

Just go see for yourself.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave