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Collectors' Convention an Annual Cornucopia of Fun

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
July 6, 2005

In a day and age when sports card shows of any consequence seem to be focused on autograph guests and smaller shows don't offer much in the way of dealer variety, The National Sports Collectors Convention remains a beacon of hope for collectors.

The 26th annual show returns to the Chicago area July 27-31. The show will be at Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, featuring 700 dealer booths spread over more than 400,000 square feet.

Generally, you can find almost everything or someone who knows about the item in question at The National. The show features a wide array of cards, jerseys, yearbooks, sports equipment, toys, photographs, autographs, figurines, vintage advertising, books and magazines.

There's also a star-studded lineup of autograph guests.

Notre Dame's legendary football coach, Ara Parseghian, 82, will be making a rare autograph appearance as will Laffit Pincay, the all-time winningest jockey.

This year's event will also include a 40th anniversary salute to the great 1965 Green Bay Packers with Paul Hornung, Boyd Dowler, Fuzzy Thurston, Jerry Kramer, Zeke Bratkowski, Don Chandler, Herb Adderley, Max Magee, Marv Fleming, Dave Robinson, Willie Davis and Willie Wood among others available to meet fans and sign autographs. A "Super Ticket" will be available for fans to purchase autographs of each of the NFL champion Packers in attendance.

For the latest complete list of autograph guests, pricing and schedules visit

The Wednesday Night Sneak Peek is sponsored by Donruss/Playoff and will feature four of Chicago's greatest athletes as free autograph guests. The featured guests are Fergie Jenkins, Johnny "Red" Kerr, William "Refrigerator Perry" and Pierre Pilote. Tickets are $15 for the Sneak Peak with admission included for those who purchase VIP passes. All attendees at Wednesday's Sneak Peek will have the opportunity to get a free autograph from the guest signers while time permits.

Donruss/Playoff and Upper Deck will have a number of promo cards available through wrapper redemption programs. Press Pass will be selling limited edition 1/25 scale die cast vehicles. Honoring the Cubs will be a 1950 Olds Rocket 88, while a 1936 Ford Panel Van is set for the Bears. They're limited to 500 each.

Tickets for the 26th National Sports Collectors Convention, as well as autograph tickets, can be purchased through The National's Web site. Single Day General Admission tickets are priced at $12 each, while the popular VIP Admission Package is $89. Tickets purchased on site at the convention center will be $15 for one day and $99 for the VIP package.

Show will be Wednesday's Sneak Peek from 5 to 9 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, July 28 and 30, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, July 31, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday is also "Nintendo Kids Free Day," with all youngsters 15 and younger admitted free to the show. All youngsters that day will receive a Pokemon TCG booster pack.

For more information, visit the show's Web site at or call toll-free 1-877-562-8466 or 1-877-5-NATIONAL.

BABE NOTE: Whoa! Da Devil's been at it again. Topps Total Baseball is out and No. 666 is once again from the team that ousted the Yankees in the playoffs. It's a yearly tradition for Total Baseball. Topps says it's just a coincidence. Hmm. Keith Foulke of the Red Sox adorns card 666 this year. That makes it Topps and those devil numbers partners for the fourth straight year. Last year, Josh Beckett, the MVP of the 2003 World Series when the Florida Marlins whipped the favored Yankees in just five games, had the honor. Prior to that, it was the Angels' Troy Percival in 2003 and Arizona's Byung-Hyun Kim got the spot in 2002.

About the author
Bill Wagner is a veteran journalist with 37 years in the newspaper business as well as being a former Army combat correspondent in Vietnam. He developed the Babe Waxpak sports card column in the 1980s and took over authorship in 1993, expanding into sports memorabilia and autographs as well as answering questions on cards.

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