The biggest show in the hobby makes a third return trip to Cleveland in the last seven years as the 28th annual National Sports Collector's Convention comes to the I-X Center Aug. 1-5. In the first instance in several years that the National dates have not conflicted with the Baseball Hall of Fame induction in Cooperstown, a sterling lineup of 700 dealer booths and more than 100 celebrity sports figures headlines the hobby mainstay that has helped promote collecting for nearly three decades. "Cleveland remains one of the best cities in America for this gathering," noted Mike Berkus, a co-director of the event, and one of the founders of the first "National" in 1980. "Cleveland is an easy destination from so many on the East Coast, and the dealers always look forward to returning there. And as we grow and learn each year, this year's convention will be our biggest and best yet." As was the case in 1997, 2001 and 2004, the convention will take place this year at the Cleveland I-X Center near Hopkins Airport, housed in over 400,000 square feet. The National will be open to the general public from Wednesday, Aug. 1 through Sunday, Aug. 5. This includes a special "Sneak Peek," Wednesday, Aug. 1, that will provide a first crack at seeing the event unfold. General admission (including the Wednesday Sneak Peek) is $17.50 per day, or $15 if pre-ordered at the convention website, www.nsccshow.com. Purchasers may print the tickets on their own printer. Special VIP and VIP All Access packages are also available at $119 and $219 respectively, the latter limited to just 250 admissions. These passes allow early admission for all days, a special entrance, gift packages of unique collectibles prepared especially for the show (NSCC officials estimated value in excess of $700), and a private lounge, with the All Access package also providing six free autograph tickets and "first in line" privileges for autographs and authentication. Radio Disney will be the sponsor of "Kids Free Day" on Friday, Aug. 3, where all kids 15 and under receive free admission and a Radio Disney souvenir. The event will also be supported by Players, Inc., the marketing arm of the NFL Players Association, which provides special free autograph guests for attendees. NSCC officials described the autograph lineup as "one of the strongest in years, particularly with no scheduling conflict with the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, making more baseball Hall of Famers available than in many years." Frank Robinson, who made baseball history in Cleveland by becoming the major league's first black manager (and who made history at bat by homering in his first at bat as a player-manager that day), returns as does his ace hurler Gaylord Perry, who played for Robinson as he marched toward his lifetime total of 314 victories with a 21-win season, including 28 complete games. In addition, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Canton will be held in the evening for the first time ever this year, making players in town for the ceremonies available throughout the show hours at the I-X Center. Robinson and Perry are joined by Bob Feller, Tom Seaver, Gordie Howe, Lem Barney, Yale Lary, Raymond Berry, Gino Marchetti, Fred Biletnikoff, Lenny Moore, Eric Dickerson, Dan Fouts, Jan Stenerud, Paul Krause, Chris Paul, Bart Starr, Bo Jackson, Ryne Sandberg, Gary Carter, Graig Netlles, Jon Matlack and Mel Renfro. Signing exclusively for VIP ticket holders at no charge will be Indians' legend Joe Charboneau, perfect-game hurler Len Barker, Tito Francona, Dick Bosman, Ron LeFlore, Stan Bahnsen, Roy Sievers, Icky Woods and Don Schwall. Additional names are still to be announced as the date of the show approaches. A full schedule of players, appearance times and costs for autographs, will be available at the Tristar Productions website, which coordinates the guest athlete appearances. View the site at www.tristarshows.com/National/pavilion.htm. Show hours will be: Wednesday's "Sneak Peek" from 5-9 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 2-4, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 5, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday will be "Kids Free Day," with all children 15 and under admitted free. Topps Wrapper Redemption Program This year's Topps National Sports Collectors Convention wrapper redemption program, exclusive cards are featured in the 2007 Topps Allen & Ginter design. Collectors need to open three packs of 2007 product at the Topps booth in order to get one of the following in either regular size or mini (original) size: Brady Quinn, Joe Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., Grady Sizemore, C.C. Sabathia, Victor Martinez, and Greg Oden. Upper Deck Wrapper Redemption Program Collectors who open any five (5) packs (SRP of $2.99 and above) of Upper Deck or Fleer 2007 baseball or football and 2006-07 basketball or hockey will receive a pack of four (4) National-exclusive redemption cards (with randomly inserted autograph variations). The daily schedule for the Upper Deck wrapper redemption program is as follows: Wednesday, Aug. 1 - National VIP's will receive the complete 16-card Upper Deck VIP set to be distributed in VIP gift bags; Thursday - Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant, Reggie Bush, Rick Nash; Friday - Cal Ripken Jr., Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning, Wayne Gretzky; Saturday - Kei Igawa, LeBron James, Matt Leinart, Evengi Malkin; Sunday - Ken Griffey Jr., Vince Young, Sidney Crosby, Daisuke Matsuzaka. Donruss Playoff has teamed up with Pepsi to produce a limited-edition trading card set for attendees bringing a special Pepsi coupon to the National. They will receive the set free, courtesy of Donruss/Playoff and Pepsi. Pepsi will be producing a special poster featuring the coupons. The posters will be displayed in grocery stories throughout the state of Ohio, starting July 1. The promotion will run through the month of July, leading up to the first day of the National, Aug. 1. The coupons will only be available at participating grocers and no purchase is necessary. The set features four of the top rookies from this year's draft class, including Cleveland's own Brady Quinn (shown directly above). Quinn will be joined by Adrian Peterson, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson and former USC standout Dwayne Jarrett of the Carolina Panthers. Rounding out the set will be Dallas Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo and St. Louis wide receiver Torry Holt. Press Pass Autograph Redemption Program Collectors who purchase a hobby box of 2007 Press Pass Eclipse, Premium, Stealth, or Traks NASCAR trading cards from a dealer at the show and bring the box to the Press Pass booth (No. 747), open the box with a Press Pass representative and share their opinions on the product can choose one autograph from a wide variety of signed cards. The NASCAR lineup consists of many popular drivers, such as Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Richard Petty, Dale Jarrett, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton. Each driver will be available while supplies last. Limit of 10 redemptions per collector. In addition, each collector who opens one six-pack mini-box of 2007 Legends Football at the Press Pass booth will receive a special National-exclusive base card parallel featuring red foil stamping and sequential numbering to only 10. Each card will be blind-wrapped in an opaque foil pack that bears a "National Exclusive" sticker; the roster includes legends featured in their collegiate uniforms such as Bart Starr, Jerry Rice, Dick Butkus and Tom Osborne, along with outstanding 2007 rookies like JaMarcus Russell, Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Brady Quinn. SAGE Wrapper Redemption SAGE Wrapper Redemption will take place at the National Redemption Booth located near the Ferris Wheel Area in the I-X Center. SAGE has produced four different cards with Jersey Swatches. These cards feature Brady Quinn, JaMarcus Russell, Troy Smith and Adrian Peterson. One random card will be given to all VIPs and to all people who enter the National for Wednesday's Sneak Peek with a general admission ticket. Attendees may receive one additional card by bringing a factory sealed box of 2007 SAGE Hit Football to the National Redemption Booth any time during show hours. The shrink-wrapped outer seal will be removed from the box and the attendee will receive one additional random card. The entire set of four SAGE National cards will be redeemed for a two-box purchase. Only factory sealed boxes will be accepted. eTopps steps up to the plate In a nod to the VIP's, eTopps (www.etopps.com) Topps has produced a five-card issue that pays homage to the classic 1957 Topps cards. The five cards will be numbered as an extension of the original 1957 Topps set, starting with No. 408, with a checklist that includes: Mickey Mantle MVP, Roger Maris Pre-Rookie in his Indians uniform, Roberto Clemente, a Bob Feller Tribute card and a Mickey Mantle/Yogi Berra card. eTopps will also offer promotional card packs of "Cards That Never Were," a lineup of baseball legends that includes 1952 Topps-style cards of Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, a 1954 style Stan Musial, a 1994 Topps Alex Rodriguez rookie and a 1967 Nolan Ryan "rookie." Also, eTopps will hold a drawing for five eTopps DiMaggio's at the National VIP Party, Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 1. These are unique from the National VIP eTopps cards in the gift bags. For more information about any of the card issues related to the show, visit the National website at www.NSCCShow.com. Information about the convention is also available by calling toll-free 1-866-323-NSCC (1-866-323-6722); the sponsorship number is (425) 775-8025. The 2008 National will be held in Chicago.
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