By Ross Forman
Brian Schwartz had a pretty good idea who the top draw would be at the scheduled reunion of 33 members of the Super Bowl-winning 1985 Chicago Bears, held on the final day of the June 8-10 Chicago Sports Spectacular held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill.
A player who was on the Injured Reserve list that whole season with an ankle injury that prematurely ended his playing career.
Jeff Fisher, who was an NFL head coach from 1994-2016, stayed with the Bears as a defensive assistant while on IR for the ’85 season – and he’s never attended a past team reunion.
“Hands down, he was the top signer,” Schwartz said. “As far as I know, this was his first signing in Chicago.”
Fisher was selected out of USC in the seventh-round of the 1981 NFL Draft by the Bears, and his career spanned 49 games as a defensive back and return specialist over five seasons.
“For 20-plus years, (collectors) have been chasing after the (’85 Bears for autographs on team-signed items),” Schwartz said. “If (collectors) want anyone (signed) who was associated with that team that year, they want Fisher, too.”
Fisher signed 50 more autographs than the second most popular signers from the team: Richard Dent and head coach Mike Ditka.
“To be honest, I thought (Fisher) might even sell more,” Schwartz said. “(Fisher) made it a point to go around and talk to all of his former teammates, some who he hadn’t seen in a long, long time. He seemed really excited to see everyone, to be there.”
Schwartz said the reunion took months to prepare, so he isn’t sure if or when another will happen.
Two former Bears who were scheduled to appear did not: Mike Richardson, who was a no-show; and William Perry, who was not medically cleared to fly, Schwartz said.
Calvin Thomas was among the former Bears who stayed around after his scheduled signing time to talk with his former teammates.
“Overall, I was very happy with” the reunion, Schwartz said.
There were multiple super tickets for sale, which included a signature of all former Bears, priced at $699 and $799.
“Overall, I think the show was pretty much what we expected it’d be: very strong on Friday, when the lineup (of signers) included (members of) the 2016 World Series-winning Chicago Cubs; and then the 1985 Bears Reunion on Sunday,” Schwartz said.
Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo were, naturally, the top signers of the Cubs – each selling out of their allotted 300 autograph tickets.
Ben Zobrist, the 2016 World Series MVP, cancelled his appearance due to a scheduling conflict, according to show organizers.
The Cubs lineup included Javier Baez, Kyle Hendricks, Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell, Mike Montgomery and David Ross, among others.
The show also featured autograph appearances by Dave Kingman, Andre Dawson, Jerome Walton, Chris Chelios, Allen Iverson, Jim Brown, Fred Dean, Eric Dickerson, Harold Baines, Jon Garland, Billy Williams, Gary Peters, Tony Oliva, Bob Horner, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Ozzie Guillen, Ron Kittle, Al Bumbry, Frank Robinson, Fred Lynn and Mitch Trubisky, among others.
Here’s a look at some of the items for sale at the Chicago Sports Spectacular:
• Replica championship rings, $35.
• Mini custom home plates, with player’s images on them, $25 or 2-for-$40.
• WWE star Braun Strowman signed 11×14 photo, matted and framed, $125.
• Charlotte Flair signed 11×14 photo, matted and framed, $130.
• Bray Wyatt signed 16×20 photo, matted and framed, $135.
• Chicago Blackhawks green baseball hat, $5.
• Lou Brock-signed baby blue St. Louis Cardinals jersey, $275.
• Harry Caray photos with Ronald Reagan and Michael Jordan, plus a cut signature, framed: $395.
• 2016 World Series bobbleheads of Ben Zobrist ($40) and Kris Bryant ($35).
• Chicago Cubs 25-card 2016 Topps team set, factory-sealed: $12.
• Harry Caray patch, $5.
• Baron Von Raschke-signed 8×10 photos, $15.
• Jumpin’ Jim Brunzell-signed 8×10 photos, $10
• Kris Bryant-signed 8×10 photo, $150.
• Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo 3-foot-tall bobbleheads, with World Series trophy: $2,500 and $2,800, respectively.
• Michael Jordan 1991 Upper Deck life-size standee, $150.
• Kyle Hendricks-signed 16×20 photo, $75.
• Mini baseball helmets, about the size of your hand, which often are used to serve ice cream: $1 each, 6-for-$5, or 13-for-$10.
• Color, or at least colorized, photo of Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson, framed, with cut signatures of each, $3,295.
• Grover Cleveland Alexander: three framed photos, plus a cut signature, $3,295. Longtime dealer Mike Stoner said it was the first signature of Alexander that he’s ever had for sale. Alexander signatures “are pretty rare, though not as rare as Mordecai Brown,” Stoner said.
• There were 16×20 signed stretched, mounted canvas prints of Dennis Rodman ($189), Jerry West ($119) and Fergie Jenkins ($119).
• Signed mini football helmets: Sterling Sharpe ($130), Ron Wolf ($70) and Mike Holmgren ($120).
• Mitch Trubisky-signed Chicago Bears full-size helmet, $499.
• Jersey with “Vaughn” on the back for Charlie Sheen’s Ricky Vaughn character in Major League, signed, $230.
• Jeremy Roenick-signed Chicago Blackhawks jersey, $199.99.
• Wooden birdhouses in team colors and with logos, $39.99.
• Chicago Stadium seat, used, $125.
• The classic Fleer card of Billy Ripken, nob blacked out, $5.
• Rizzo or Bryant-signed ball, $175.
• Jim Morrissey or Mike Hartenstine-signed 8×10 photo, $5.
“The show was OK,” Marty Davis of Marty’s said. “It was more of a fan-based show, as opposed to a collector-based show. If you had the right stuff (for sale), you did well.”
Davis said hockey card boxes sold well too, along with non-sport releases.
Ross Forman is a freelance contributor to Sports Collectors Digest. He can be reached at Rossco814@aol.com.