Mike Tyson has never appeared at a sports memorabilia show to sign autographs, but despite his troubled past, his popular appearances in "The Hangover" movies have landed him among a new crew of fans, with a cultlike following.
Authentic autographs from Tyson are minimal, hard to find and harder to authenticate, yet, "the demand is strong," said Jon Carr, 39, a sports memorabilia collector living in Carol Stream.
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When: Aug. 3-7
Where: Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont
Who: About 100 autograph guests will appear and 700 dealers from across the U.S. and Canada
Hours: 4-8 p.m. Wednesday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
For more information: www.nsccshow.com
Learn more about the autograph guests: www.tristarproductions.com/National.
Signature Stats: Fun facts from The National Autograph Pavilion
Most legible: Bart Starr and Gale Sayers.
Most unreadable: Joe Montana and Gary Beban
Surprise star: Rafael Palmeiro.
Friendliest signers: Bart Starr, Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken Jr.
Best long-term value: Mike Tyson, John Elway, Cal Ripken Jr.
Best nicknames to get on an autograph: Don Zimmer ("Popeye); Brooks Robinson (':The Human Vacuum Cleaner"); and Cal Ripken ("Iron Man")
Fastest autograph: Tara. The pro wrestler, who now lives in Chicago, has only four letters in her name.
Most expensive: $299, for a Rickey Henderson jersey, jersey number or artwork.
Probably top 5: Mike Tyson, Antti Niemi, Starlin Castro, Cal Ripken Jr., Ric Flair
Top 5 Hot Hobby Trends:
Ÿ High-grade vintage cards.
Ÿ Bryce Harper cards.
Ÿ Autographed cards.
Ÿ Oddball mementos, such as regional sets or items with limited availability.
Ÿ Football collectibles -- cards and memorabilia
Ÿ Cards from the 1980s to the present.
Ÿ Barry Bonds.
Ÿ Boxing autographs.
Ÿ NBA collectibles
Top 5 packs and/or boxes of current releases to look for:
Ÿ 2010-11 Totally Certified Basketball
Ÿ Allen & Ginter
Ÿ Goodwin Champions
Ÿ 2011 Bowman Baseball
Ÿ Ultimate Collection Basketball.
So, when Tyson, 45, appears at the 32nd annual National Sports Collectors Convention, starting Wednesday in Rosemont, the interest should be enormous.
He will be, no doubt, the most sought-after signature among the near-100 autograph guests scheduled to appear at the five-day show running Aug. 3-7, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.
"I think Mike Tyson, by far, will be the biggest draw for this show being it's his first card show appearance," Carr said. "I also think the photo-ops for him will be huge. Mike Tyson is on the same recognizable level as a Hulk Hogan or Dennis Rodman, who (each) always have long photo-ops lines."
Added Tom Bartsch, editor of Sports Collectors Digest: "Tyson is pretty hot right now, having (also) just been inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame. Despite his crazy past, he's still got great appeal among boxing fans and collectors and is still considered one of the biggest hitters in history."
The National, as the show is known, has appeared in Chicago more times than any other city. The last time The National was held in Chicago, in 2008, the event drew worldwide press after organizers offered Steve Bartman $25,000 to appear and sign one autograph. Bartman, the infamous Cubs' fan who has been in seclusion since the 2003 playoffs, rejected the offer.
Tyson headlines an autograph pavilion this year at The National, organized and run by Houston-based Tristar Productions Inc., that is star-studded and may border on record-setting for the number of autograph guests at one show. The autograph lineup for The National includes:
• 15 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including Jim Brown, John Elway, Joe Montana, Gale Sayers and Bart Starr.
• Six Super Bowl MVPs, including John Riggins and Roger Staubach.
• Four Heisman Trophy winners, including Paul Hornung and Bo Jackson.
• 22 Baseball Hall of Famers, including Luis Aparicio, Wade Boggs, Carlton Fisk, Frank Robinson and Earl Weaver.
• Three members of baseball's elite 500 Home Run Club: Reggie Jackson