Mike Ditka sports memorabilia to go up for auction

Great Grabowski!

Sneed hears legendary coach Mike Ditka’s ultimate “man cave” is going on the auction block!

Going … going … go Bears!

Watch for more than 500 items of sports memorabilia collected by da coach and culled from the walls of Ditka’s namesake Gold Coast Ditka’s restaurant, shuttered in 2020, to hit Hindman Auctions online soon.

The grub hub eatery was “home away from home” for Ditka, 82, and his wife, Diana.

“It was our living room and our dining room and our meeting room with family and charities and business for decades,” said Diana Ditka, who said the couple could walk daily to their restaurant located in the Tremont Hotel complex at 100 E. Chestnut St. from their nearby home.

“We miss it terribly,” she said.

An autographed painting of Mike Ditka formerly displayed at Ditka’s Restaurant

Provided/Leslie Hindman

When the eatery hit the quit button in 2020 via a Facebook post, Ditka told Sneed back then: “Things wear out after a time. It’s over and it was good.’

It was then the cache of Ditka memorabilia, a history of his amazing football career adorning walls and serpentining through stairwells, was packed up and stored until this year — when the Ditka family decided to auction most of it off to fans.

“The family felt it was time to let go,” said Stacy Ditka, a daughter-in-law who runs Ditkakids.com, a children’s clothing line inspired by the coach. “Our Ditka ‘onesies’ for babies are very popular,” she chuckled.

“We all loved Ditka’s, but when it closed, the truckload of Ditka memories on the restaurant walls was removed,” she added.

“The family kept what was near and dear to their hearts, then decided to let others have a chance to add to their own collections via an auction.”

Mike Ditka’s jersey and famous coaching sweater, which had been on display at Ditka’s restaurant.

Provided/Hindman Auctions

Now released by the Ditka family: more than 500 sports-related restaurant items curated by the auction house into 185 lots — with the “85” used as an ode to the 1985 Bears’ Super Bowl win in New Orleans.

o The priciest item in the collection is valued at $30,000 to $50,000 for Lot 41, billed as “an exceptional piece of Chicago history”: Ditka’s Bears jersey and blue sweater encased in a huge frame following the retirement of his famous No. 89 in a ceremony after the Bears vs. Cowboys game on Dec. 9, 2013, at Soldier Field.

(A history note: Ditka, the first tight end inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was the last Bear to have hisnumber retired.)

oThe flip side: On the far side of the estimate list is a group of baseball bats given to Ditka by his hero, St. Louis Cardinal’s legend Stan “the Man” Musial — who autographed one — now estimated at $200 to $300.

And lest we forget, Ditka’s Super Bowl XX game ball is also on the block.

So how does the coach feel about saying so long to his collectibles? “Everything is fine,” chirped Ditka.”Can’t keep everything. Hey, we are all only here for a while. I kept what I wanted.”

What is Ditka’s most treasured keepsake still in his possession?

“It’s probably a photo of me with Walter Payton,” said Ditka. “He was the best football player I’ve ever seen. He was relentless.”

Coach: ‘Chicago is the home of the Bears’

Ditka is still opposed to the Bears’ attempt to move the franchise from Soldier Field to Arlington Heights.

He tells Sneed:”I still don’t think it’s a good thing to move the Bears to Arlington Park. Chicago is the home of the Bears. Their home.

“I believe in loyalty and don’t think they are thinking of loyalty to the city,” Ditka grumbled. “But I’m not going to let it bother me. Or worry about it.”

Would he go to a Bears game in Arlington Heights?

“Well, if they were playing in L.A. I’d probably go,” Ditka chuckled.

Mike Ditka’s 1961 Marlboro Award NFL Rookie of the Year Trophy

Provided/Leslie Hindman

Couple’s Florida home escapes storm

Ditka and his wife are currently in their Gold Coast perch hoping to return soon to their other home in hurricane-battered Naples, Florida.Ditka, the victim of a massive heart attack in 2018 while golfing, loves living on the links in the Sunshine State although he no longer is able to take part in the sport.

“Oh, we’ve been told our home is okay,” said Diana. “When we built our house 20years ago, we made sure it was built pretty solid,” she added.

Then Coach added: “Hey, we are all only here for a while. I’m here until I’m gone. Everything is fine. “

But hold on! Coach Ditka still opines about one thing he certainly will miss that’s NOTin the auction:

“Our signature Ditka’s dish,” he chuckled. “It was one helluva great pork chop!”

As they say in the auction business: “SOLD!

Congrats to mayoral challenger Paul Valls on the birth of his one and only grandson, Konstantinos Vallas. …. Saturday birthdays: actress Brie Larson, 33;actress Julie Andrews, 87, and and former President Jimmy Carter, 98. … Sunday birthdays: talk show host Kelly Ripa, 52; singer Sting, 71, and singer Don McLean. 77.

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