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Ara Parseghian in Rare Signing Appearance at National Sports Collectors Convention

Chicago Legends Minnie Minoso, Billy Williams, Dennis Hull Also Announced

Jockey Lafitt Pincay, Jr., Makes Special Appearance

Coaches Ditka, Weber To Attend

Sneak Peek Night Offers Jenkins, Kerr, ‘Fridge’, Piloti

Notre Dame football coaching legend Ara Parseghian will make a rare signing appearance when he attends the 26th annual National Sports Collectors Convention, July 27-31 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL.

Parseghian, 82, coached Notre Dame for 11 seasons, won two consensus national championships and three bowl games. He is currently involved with the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, helping fight Niemann-Pick Type C, the neurodegenerative disease that has claimed the life of his grandson, Michael, and granddaughter, Christa, and threatens the life of their sister, Marcia. (See for more information).

Before moving to Notre Dame in 1964, Ara coached Northwestern for eight seasons, beating Notre Dame four times. He was a longtime commentator for ABC and CBS after his coaching career and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Coach Parseghian’s appearance is being announced along with other Chicago legends – the White Sox’ Minnie Minoso, and the Cubs’ Billy Williams, Randy Hundley, Paul Popovich, and Buck O’Neill, along with Chicago Black Hawk greats Dennis Hull and Denis Dejordy. Previously announced guests with strong Chicago connections are Glendon Rusch, Don Kessinger, Glenn Beckert, Dick Allen, and Tommy John.

Also announced is the winningest jockey in racing history, the great Laffit Pincay, Jr., who rode 9,531 winners during his brilliant career.

"In 26 years, we have had more than 1000 athletes appear at the Convention," noted Mike Berkus, co-convention manager, and one of the founders of the event. "But I think Laffit may be the first jockey we’ve ever had, and as the winner of 4 Triple Crown races including the 1984 Kentucky Derby (on Swale), he has an autograph worth getting. We intend to have him at our Wednesday press gathering, too."

The National is also announcing the presence of legendary coaches Mike Ditka, the Hall of Fame tight end who led the Bears to victory in Super Bowl XX, and Illinois coach Bruce Weber, joined by former Illinois players Frank Williams (now with the Bulls), and Deron Williams, the All-American about to enter the draft.

Also on hand will be DePaul’s Quentin Richardson (now with Phoenix), Crane High’s Tony Allen (now with the Celtics), Melrose Park native Corey Maggette (now with the Cllippers), Springfield’s Andre Iguodala (now with the 76ers), and East Saint Louis HS product Darius Miles (now with the Trailblazers).

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 what has simply become known as, "The Hobby." The event is spread over 400,000 square feet and is open to the general public from Wednesday, July 27 through Sunday, July 31st. This includes a special "Sneak Peek," Wednesday, July 27th, 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 "Refigerator" 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.

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

This year’s event will include a 40th anniversary salute to the great 1965 Green Bay Packers, and among those present to meet fans and sign autographs will be Paul Hornung, Bob Long, Bob Skoronski, Boyd Dowler, Fuzzy Thurston, Jerry Kramer, Zeke Bratkowski, Bob Jeter, Don Chandler, Doug Hart, Herb Adderley, Max Magee, 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.

While the full guest list is still in development, the current autograph guest list shows:

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’Neill*, Dave Winfield*, Minnie Minoso*, Ralph Kiner*, Paul Popovich*, Randy Hundley*, and Negro League great Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, who turns 103 on July 7.

Basketball: Johnny "Red" Kerr*, Oscar Robertson, Dolph Schayes, Phil Chenier, Bruce Weber*, Deron Williams*, Darius Miles*, Andre Iguodala*, Corey Maggette*, Tony Allen*, Frank Williams*, and Quentin Richardson*.

Football: In addition to the Packers, Mike Ditka*, William "Refrigerator" Perry*, Rashaan Salaam, Christian Okoye, Lou Creekmur, Dennis McKinnon, Otis Wilson, Steve Largent*, and Tony Dorsett.

Hockey: Pierre Pilote*, Bernie Parent*, Dennis Hull*, and Denis Dejordy*

Horse Racing: Laffit Pincay, Jr.*

Entertainment: "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").

(An asterisk indicates newly announced since last press release. Visit the National’s website for specific dates of celebrity appearances).

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 p.m. 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, Single Day General Admission tickets are priced at $12 each, while the popular VIP Admission Package is $89.00. Tickets purchased on site at the Convention Center will be priced at $15 for Single Day and $99 for the VIP package.

Show hours will be Wednesday’s "Sneak Peek" from 5 p.m. 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 will be "Nintendo Kids Free Day," with all youngsters 15 and under admitted free to the Convention Center. All youngsters that day will receive a Pokemon TCG booster pack.

The Pokemon TCG has also joined with the National and the Chicago Daily Herald’s summer reading program by distributing over 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.

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.

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.

Mike Berkus, John Broggi and Bob Wilke are the convention’s managers. Autograph guests are contracted through ABN Sports. The 26th National Sports Collectors Convention is produced by Solcrest, Inc. of Las Vegas, and Bob Byer is the Convention Director.

Source: The National
Date: June 10, 2005

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