#61 Uncle Jimmy

No, not that Uncle Jimmy; this is about a different Uncle Jimmy; the Uncle Jimmy you would wish for.

So what do Bobby Lillis, Bill Monbuquette, Johnny Werhas and Gene Conley have in common?  That’s right, Uncle Jimmy.

– Bobby Lillis was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951.  He did not make the big leagues until 1958.  He played major league ball for 10 seasons, retiring in 1968.  Bobby is now 90 years old.     

– Bill Monbuquette pitched for the Boston Red Sox.  He came up in 1958 and won over 100 games in his career.  He struck out 17 batters in one game, a Red Sox record until Roger Clemens came along.  Bill died in 2015, a few years after being inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame.                

– Johnny Werhas was what was known back in the day as a phenom.   He graduated as an all-American in both basketball and baseball from USC in 1959.  He was drafted by both the Lakers and the Dodgers.  Werhas only hit 2 major league home runs.  His career lasted only 3 years.  Johnny is now 82.  

– Gene Conley passed away in 2017 at the age of 86.  Conley was one of the few professional athletes who succeeded in both the NBA and the Major Leagues.  Conley played for both the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Celtics.  He retired from baseball after 11 seasons.

So what does Uncle Jimmy have to do with these notable, but not highly notable baseball players?

Jimmy Micioni, a New Jersey man affectionately known as Uncle Jimmy to everyone who knew him, died in March, 2020 at the age of 97.

However, little did anyone know that stashed in his attic was a meticulously collected and cataloged sports card collection valued at more than $1 million.

While Micioni’s nieces and nephews had gotten glimpses of his collection over the years through visits to his home, they did not see or understand the size of his collection until after his death. Micioni’s family was tasked with cleaning out his home in Boonton, New Jersey, and that’s when they discovered his collection.   The collection included, among thousands of others, cards of Bobby Lillis, Bill Monbuquette, Johnny Werhas and Gene Conley.

Among the treasures were autographed cards from baseball legends such as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.   The cards were evaluated by Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), a third-party grading and authentication company.  “We’ve witnessed and graded many impressive collections and finds over our 30 years in the industry, but the Uncle Jimmy Collection ranks near the top in terms of volume, player selection and preservation,” PSA President Steve Sloan told CNN.

Sloan said he was impressed with the overall preservation of the cards, as some of the cards date back to the 1930s. He added that the cards are “valued at north of $1 million, but could ultimately sell for several million.”

SSOMG has hidden hundreds of cards around the house in Oceanside.  Most of them are sealed into the wood work and cabinets in the garage.  In the spirit of Uncle Jimmy, I have left it to my heirs to discover the hidden Bobby Lillis card in the work bench and the Bill Monbuquette behind the framing.  Good luck finding Werhas and Conley, they may never re-surface.  I am quite sure the discovery will be worth more than $10 and maybe upwards of $100 when all the cards are retrieved.  My greatest hope is to be known as Uncle Stevie, the baseball card collector who left a fortune in baseball cards to his wonderful kids….

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