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Jenni Carlson

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Hidden treasure on sports scene

by Jenni Carlson Published: November 15, 2007

Everyone’s celebrating our fair state this week.

Here’s another reason to be proud of Oklahoma.

Watch my video commentary or read here:

One of the best kept secret in all of Oklahoma sports is hiding in plain sight. Right there on S.E. 29th Street, it sprawls for nearly a half mile. It has at least half a dozen buildings, probably more, and many are as big as an indoor practice football field.

Yet, even the staunchest sports fans in our fair state know little about Midwest Trophy.

Also known now as MTM Recognition, the company is an Oklahoma sports treasure. It started small three-plus decades ago. It’s big accounts then were bowling leagues and little leagues. You can still get a trophy there for your Thursday night league, but MTM now produces some of the best-known awards in all sports, too.

The NCAA championship trophies? MTM does those.

The Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl? MTM does those, too.

There’s also the World Series MVP, the awards for the Big 12 and several other conferences as well as the trophies for more than a dozen NASCAR races.

Heck, turn over any sports award in your house. Your son’s baseball trophy. Your daughter’s high school plaque. I’d almost bet the sticker on the bottom says it’s from MTM.

The business is a dream world of awards. Just the other day, they were doing glass etching on a bowl for a Big 12 trophy in one room and the metal checkered flag trophies for 2006 Nextel Cup winner Jimmie Johnson’s crew in another.

Everywhere you turn is something cool.

Go into the office of sculptor Jack Nortz and you can see a picture of him with Johnny Unitas. That’s because Nortz created the trophy for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given to the best college football quarterback. The Unitas family invited him to the awards ceremony when that picture was snapped several years ago, and he’s headed back next month for this year’s presentation.

Midwest Trophy has quietly become a giant in the land of sports awards. Thing is, more people may know it outside Oklahoma than inside the borders.

Want to know more about MTM and exactly how it became such a big-time operation?

Check out my story in Sunday’s edition of The Oklahoman. We’ll profile the people behind MTM’s success. We’ll also give you a look at the company’s 10 most recognizable awards as well as a look at some of the other places you may have seen MTM’s handiwork.

As the fall sports season winds down and champions are crowned, chances are good, many of the trophies they hoist over their heads came from right here in Oklahoma.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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