James Micioni was an avid collector of baseball cards and memorabilia. He never married, never had kids lived a modest life as a factory worker and high school janitor. He loved sports, he loved baseball, and particularly loved his New York Yankees. He also loved his seven nephews and nieces, who always knew he was somewhat of a sports collector but had no idea the extent of his collection until Uncle Jimmy passed away.
In March of last year, Uncle Jimmy died at the age of 97. Two days later, five of the seven nephews and nieces, ranging in age from 49 to 69, nervously prepared to go into the house and eventually down into the basement and up into the attic.
In the basement, they found boxes and boxes of baseball memorabilia. “It was like a mini-museum down there,” one of the nephews said. The attic was even more impressive with 40 boxes of “buried treasure”.
The family then started to go through some of the boxes and started to find tons of Babe Ruth, Lou Gerhig, Jackie Robinson cards. Then they started to find binder after binder finding all kinds of Hall of Famer cards and autographed cards. Uncle Jimmy had always told the kids that Babe Ruth was up in the attic, but we never there were so many.
The kids found six signed Babe Ruth 1933 Goudey cards. They were the highlight of hundreds of vintage cards found in remarkable condition. All told, Uncle Jimmy had over +100,000 cards. While the Ruth-signed Goudeys have received the most attention, the high-quality non-signed cards are equally awesome, and his collection also included rare pennants, World Series programs, signed newspaper clippings, photos, regional sets, pins, and so much more. Experts in the industry have reported the insanely pack-fresh condition of the 1956, 1965 and 1967 Topps sets and the amazing 1948 Bowman set.
Professional Sports Authenticator, which did the authenticating and grading, called it “one of the finest private collections of baseball cards, autographs and photos ever to surface in the hobby.”
What makes this story even more amazing is that Uncle Jimmy never did it for the money! He simply loved collecting, going to shows, meeting new people, and talking the hobby he loved.
The family has decided to keep a portion of the collection and auction off some of the cards during the next couple of years. The first auction held back in late-July included just one of the signed Ruth cards, along with Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx autographed Goudey cards. The 1933 Goudey Ruth #149 graded PSA 5 with a 6 autograph grade sold for a record $324,500 in that auction. At that same auction, the family also sold a PSA 3.5 (auto grade 6) of Ruth’s #144 card which sold for $218,300. The family also sold a 1934 Goudey Gehrig for +$220,000, and a 1933 Goudey Gehrig that sold for +$200,000. In all, nine cards signed by Ruth and Lou Gehrig have generated over $2 million for Micioni’s family members.
Uncle Jimmy’s auction also included some of the more modern-day stars like one of two PSA 10 1973 Topps Johnny Bench cards sold that for $14,160 while one of five PSA 10 1974 Topps Reggie Jackson cards went for $8,850. A high-grade set of 1971 Topps baseball sold for +$14,000. The high-graded cards would probably be triple in price if the auction happened today.
In fact, this past Sunday, the family held their final auction, selling off a few more cards and another one of the autographed Babe Ruth #149 Goudey cards, this time the Ruth went for a record-setting $761,100! Wow, what a game-changing story for Uncle Jimmy’s family! (Source: Sports Collectors Digest, PSA)