Chicago Sun-Times Show Preview; Nov. 17-19 in Rosemont, Ill.

The fall classic of sports memorabilia is Nov. 17-19 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in suburban Rosemont. The 33rd annual Chicago Sun-Times Sports Collectible & Autograph Convention features cards, photos, memorabilia and more from throughout the sporting world. Be it baseball cards or vintage photos, game-worn jerseys or classic sports magazines. The Sun-Times show has something sporting for everyone.

Especially on the autograph front.

As always, the twice-a-year Sun-Times Show features a loaded lineup of autograph guests, starting Friday night with Da Coach, Mike Ditka, and perennial Pro Bowler Brian Urlacher, he of the dynamic Chicago Bears’ defense.

The autograph lineup is every bit as strong on Saturday, anchored by appearances by Hall of Famers John Riggins, Bruce Sutter, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench. Also scheduled to appear Saturday: Pat Summerall, Red Schoendienst, Tony Perez, Gale Sayers, Duke Snider, B.J. Armstrong, Dustin Hermanson, Orlando Hernandez and Freddy Sanchez.

The autograph lineup on Sunday features baseball icons Cal Ripken Jr., Mike Schmidt and Rickey Henderson. Also signing on Sunday: Orel Hershiser, Justin Morneau, Bobby Jenks, Jim Rice, Jack Morris, Ralph Branca, Bobby Thompson and Gary Carter.

But that’s not it for autograph signers at the show. VIP Guests have their shot at eight more signers, each signing free autographs, including 1960 National League Cy Young award-winner Vernon Law and 1961 American League Rookie of the Year Don Schwall. Other VIP guests include Tyrone Keys and Keith Ortego of the 1985 Chicago Bears, plus Vance Law, J.R. Richard, Bill Madlock and Carlos May.

So what is the VIP Package? Well, many collectors say it’s the best value at the show. For $89, a limited number of collectors gain early access to the show – 30 minutes per day before the general public. Plus, VIP Guests receive one random autograph ticket from the all-star lineup and a special gift from Riddell. In addition, VIP Guests receive a gift bag, loaded with valuable cards and promotional items. There also is a VIP Raffle, featuring a Dan Marino autographed helmet as the top prize, followed by a Dick Butkus-signed mini helmet.

“Once again the Sun-Times Show delivers a great lineup of autograph guests, featuring baseball stars past and present,” said Jon Carr, a collector from Carol Stream Ill. “With the St. Louis Cardinals winning the World Series, I’m sure there will be big demand in the former Cardinals who will be appearing.

“The top signers at the show, though, likely will be Dustin Hermanson and ‘El Duque’ Orlando Hernandez because I don’t think either of them has made a public autographing appearance since the (2005) White Sox won the World Series, thus, everyone needs them on their team-signed items.”

The show also features a special tribute to the old Negro Leagues, highlighted by appearances by Hank Presswood and Sonny Weston, who is making his first Sun-Times Show appearance.

“We’re looking forward to another great turnout, another great show,” said George Johnson, president of Sportsnews Productions, Inc., the show promoter. “Collectors seem very excited to meet and greet Cal Ripken, John Riggins, Red Schoendienst and Orel Hershiser, among others – all making their first-time appearance at a Sun-Times Show.

“Clearly, the best value at the show is the VIP Package, a $300 value. We have regular show customers from across the country who buy the VIP Package.”

The Sun-Times Show is, without a doubt, a national event. There will be relics from all four major sports, not to mention NASCAR, golf, tennis and even pro wrestling. There will be 600 exhibitor tables, with dealers representing 46 States, including the self-appointed “Buying Machine,” Alan Rosen.

Yep, the New Jersey-based dealer, known worldwide as Mr. Mint, will be front and center at the convention center, buying vintage memorabilia. And remember, wherever Rosen goes, so too are $100 bills.

“The Sun-Times Show is one of the best shows in the country,” said Steve Gold, owner of AU Sports in Skokie, Ill. “The show brings collectors from throughout the Midwest, if not the entire country. Other shows have trouble attracting collectors, but not the Sun-Times Shows, which draws lots of customers and major dealers from across the country.

“Collectors come to the Sun-Times Show so they can see, touch and feel some of the greatest sports memorabilia anywhere. Sure, you can sit at home and buy items on eBay, but you don’t really know for sure what you’re buying, what condition it truly is in.

“That’s what makes the Sun-Times Show special. Sure, you can buy memorabilia on eBay, but you don’t get that personal feeling of seeing and touching an item. Plus, the show is a great opportunity for networking, meeting other collectors, finding others collectibles.”

The show also features appearances by the officials from the nation’s top card, autograph and memorabilia grading companies – PSA, Beckett, Global and JSA.

In addition, the show will feature the finals of the Lemont Table Hockey League, a battle between Jim Rzonca and John Medema of Tinley Park. One will be awarded a trophy, then the game will be open for collectors to play.

Table hockey tournaments, similar to the domed game seen at bars, are commonplace across America. The game was invented in Canada in the 1930s.

“Table hockey is all about the competition, like playing pool with your buddies,” Rzonca said. “A lot of us (in the league) got table hockey games as kids at Christmas. Now we’re just big kids playing the game and, yes, people do play table hockey all over the world believe it or not.”

For more information on the annual Sun-Times Show, call 630-585-3636. Or, go to

– By Ross Forman

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