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updated: 8/1/2011 3:22 PM

National sports collectibles show starts Aug. 3 in Rosemont

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  • Bart Starr has his photo taken with a fan at a previous convention.

    Bart Starr has his photo taken with a fan at a previous convention.
    courtesy Tristar Productions Inc.

  • Bo Jackson, right, with a fan.

    Bo Jackson, right, with a fan.
    Courtesy Tristar Productions Inc.

  • Plenty of autographed baseballs will be for sale at the show.

    Plenty of autographed baseballs will be for sale at the show.

By Ross Forman
Daily Herald correspondent

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.

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