Heisman Trophy winners, Packers and local legends

Fresh from the thrills of the Fighting Illini basketball season of 2004-05, coach Bruce Weber will lead an array of Chicago and Illinois high school basketball legends to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill., July 27-31, for the 26th annual National Sports Collectors Convention. 

The National will provide a destination for three distinct “themes” as the basketball legends are joined by a 40th reunion of 19 members of the NFL Champion Green Bay Packers. Paul Hornung, the “Golden Boy” of that team, is also part of a third “themed” gathering, as 15 Heisman Trophy winners come to town to meet fans and sign autographs.

Heading the local basketball players will be Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade, in the midst of a tidal wave of popularity after his Homeric effort in this year’s NBA playoffs. Wade is a product of Richards High School (Oaklawn) and Marquette University. Also due to attend are Portland’s Darius Miles, Quentin Richardson of the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Corey Maggette, Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala, Boston’s Tony Allen, the Bulls’ Frank Williams, and Illini guard Deron Williams (the No. 1 Utah Jazz pick).

Also newly announced are Arizona center Channing Frye, the New York Knicks No. 1 draft pick, and North Carolina’s Sean May, the Charlotte Bobcats No. 1 pick.

The 15 Heisman winners range from 1955’s Howard “Hopalong” Cassady, to 1994’s Rashaan Salaam, while the legendary Packers of Vince Lombardi fame will be led by Hornung, Jerry Kramer and Max McGee. (See below for the complete list of attendees).

Another recently announced guest will be Penny Marshall, beloved on television in the long-running “Laverne and Shirley,” but known to sports fans for directing the baseball classic “A League of Their Own.” She is also the producer of “Cinderella Man,” the hit film about boxer James Braddock starring Russell Crowe.

The 26th National will feature more than 700 dealer booths, scores of sports celebrities, and a dazzling array of special activities to welcome collectors for what remains, in its 26th year, a time to celebrate the hobby.

The event is spread over 400,000 square feet and is open to the public from Wednesday, July 27 through Sunday, July 31.  This includes a special “Sneak Peek” on Wednesday, July 27, that will include free autographs and promo cards as well as first crack at seeing the event. VIP Club holders may attend any or all days free of charge; general admission is $15 per day.

The “Sneak Peek” will be much more than an early look at dealer booths. Four Chicago immortals: Ferguson Jenkins of the Cubs, Johnny “Red” Kerr of the Bulls, William “Refrigerator” Perry of the Bears and Pierre Pilote of the Black Hawks, will be on hand to sign free autographs as time permits, courtesy of Donruss/Playoff trading cards.

Cards and Memorabilia are always the stars

The National includes a spectacular offering of cards, yearbooks, sports equipment, toys, photos, autographs, figurines, vintage advertising, books or magazines, in short – a celebration of America’s biggest hobby – sports memorabilia, spread over hundreds of booths.

Among the items on display of museum quality will be: a letter written by Jack Johnson to The Ring Magazine, claiming to have thrown his famous fight against Jess Willard; Joe DiMaggio’s 1941 Yankees contract (the MVP year of his 56-game hitting streak); an agreement letter between Babe Ruth and Harry Frazee from 1918 spelling out bonus clauses for winning games (courtesy of Geppi’s Memorabilia Road Show); the Leo Durocher Collection, including his 1954 World Series ring and a 1950s Willie Mays glove (Hunt Auctions); the original Honus Wagner bat used to create the first Louisville Slugger signature bat, and a complete run of game used bats by all members of the 500-Home Run Club (Vintage Authentics),
The Chicago Bulls have announced daily raffles of autographed Bulls merchandise from past championship seasons and current players. The Bulls will have their six championship trophies on display for fans to pose with. In addition, there will be appearances by Benny the Bull and former Bulls favorite Bob Love throughout the weekend and the Spin-A-Bull wheel, where for a modest donation, guests can spin for a guaranteed prize. There will also be ESPN NBA 2K5 interactive video gaming sessions, a free kids’ fanpack for all children 12 and younger (one per child), and offers for merchandise and discounted tickets, with all proceeds to benefit CharitaBulls, the team’s charity foundation.

The show also features the 40th anniversary salute to the great 1965 Packers, and among those present to meet fans and sign autographs will be Hornung, Kramer, Magee, Bob Long, Bob Skoronski, Boyd Dowler, Carroll Dale, Fuzzy Thurston, Zeke Bratkowski, Bob Jeter, Don Chandler, Doug Hart, Herb Adderley, Ken Bowman, Tom Brown, Marv Fleming, Dave Robinson, Willie Davis and Willie Wood. A “Super Ticket” will be available for fans to purchase autographs of each of the NFL champion Packers in attendance.

The Guest List

Baseball:  Fergie Jenkins, Mike Remlinger, Glendon Rusch, Don Kessinger, Glenn Beckert, Dick Allen, Juan Marichal, Tommy John, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Jim Bibby, Jim Coates, Johnny Blanchard, J.R. Richard, Billy Williams, Buck O’Neil, Dave Winfield, Minnie Minoso, Ralph Kiner, Paul Popovich, Randy Hundley, Amos Otis, Ernie Broglio, Paul Casanova, Tony Gonzalez, Tony Taylor, Billy Pierce and Negro League great Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe, who turned 103 on July 7.
Basketball: Johnny “Red” Kerr, Oscar Robertson, Dolph Schayes, Phil Chenier, Bruce Weber, Channing Frye, Sean May, and the “Legends of Illinois” featuring Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams, Darius Miles, Andre Iguodala, Corey Maggette, Tony Allen, Frank Williams, and Quentin Richardson.

Football: In addition to the Packers, Gale Sayers, Mike Ditka, Ara Parseghian, William “Refrigerator” Perry, Rashaan Salaam, Christian Okoye, Lou Creekmur, Dennis McKinnon, Otis Wilson, Steve Largent, Jim Covert, Chris Zorich, Emory Moorehead, Conrad Dobler, and the New York Jets’ “Sack Exchange” of Marty Lyons, Mark Gastineau, Abdul Salaam, and Joe Kleko.
Heisman Trophy winners: Tony Dorsett (1976), Charles White (1979), John Cappelletti (1973), Johnny Rodgers (1972), George Rogers (1980), Mike Rozier (1983), Gary Beban (1967), Billy Sims  (1978), Howard “Hopalong” Cassady (1955), Johnny Lattner  (1953), Gino Toretta (1992), John David Crow (1957), Rashaan Salaam (1994), and Andre Ware (1989). 

Hockey:  Pierre Pilote, Bernie Parent, Dennis Hull, Phil Esposito, Tony Esposito, Dennis Savard, Emile Francis, Murray Bannerman, Bill Gadsby and Denis DeJordy
Horse Racing:  Laffit Pincay, Jr.

Entertainment: “League of Their Own” director Penny Marshall* (“Laverne and Shirley”), “Laugh In’s” Ruth Buzzi, Kathy Garver (“Family Affair”), Larry Thomas (The Soup Nazi from “Seinfeld”),  “Lassie’s” Jon Provost, Brande Roderick (“Baywatch Hawaii”), Ron Van Dam (WWE champion), Sandra Taylor (actress, model, frequent Howard Stern guest), Barbara Moore (actress, model), Jerri Manthey (“Survivor” and “Surreal Life”), and Lorenzo Lamas (“Falcon Crest,” “The Bold and the Beautiful”). More names will be announced in coming weeks.

The National will begin with an invitation-only press reception on Wednesday, July 27 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.  That evening, from 5 to 9 p.m., there will be a “Sneak Peek” for a special $15 admission, or for VIP Premier Club members who purchase weeklong, $99 VIP tickets, ($89 if purchased in advance). Those ticket holders receive valuable gift packages and a special VIP Free Autograph package. The Sneak Peek will include free autographs from Jenkins, Kerr, Perry and Pilote on a first come, first served basis.

Tickets for the 26th National Sports Collectors Convention, as well as autograph tickets, can now be purchased through the National Web site at www.natlconv.com. Single-day general admission tickets are priced at $12 each, while the VIP Admission Package is $89. Tickets purchased on site at the Convention Center will be priced at $15 for single-day and $99 for the VIP package.

Show hours are: 5 to 9 p.m. for Wednesday’s “Sneak Peek”; Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday will be “Nintendo Kids Free Day,” with all youngsters 15 and under admitted free. All youngsters that day will receive a Pokemon TCG booster pack.

WalMart customers can visit the store’s Pepsi display, pick up a redemption form, and receive a free set of specially produced Cubs or White Sox cards produced by Donruss for The National.

The Pokemon TCG has also joined with the National and the Chicago Daily Herald’s summer reading program by distributing more than 100,000 coupons through libraries in the Chicago area, inviting youngsters to attend the National any day, free of charge.  Attendees will be able to redeem the coupon for a free booster pack and a chance to win a Nintendo DS.

Geppi’s Memorabilia Road Show, the auction house, will have a drawing where attendees can win a Cal Ripken signed bat and ball bearing the 2,131 commemoration.

Collectors should also note that a “National Only” item, a Nomar Garciaparra action figure from McFarlane Toys, will be available at the convention only for a special price of just $15.

PSA, the grading service, will be running a “World Series of Autograph Authentication,” testing attendees on picking out “real from fake,” with a $2,500 first prize.

NAXCOM.com is offering a discount ticket when purchased in advance through their site, along with a free LeBron James UD uncirculated rookie card, while supplies last.

Information about the National Sports Collectors Convention is available by calling toll-free 1 (877) 562-8466, or 1 (877) 5-NATIONAL.  The sponsorship number is (425) 775-8025. 

The National Sports Collectors Convention was in Cleveland last summer and has rotated annually around the country since its debut.  It will be held in Anaheim in 2006.

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