Upper Deck co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Richard P. McWilliam died unexpectedly in his home in Rancho Santa Fe, CA on Saturday, January 5. He was 59 years old, and leaves behind one of the largest trading card companies.
McWilliam was the subject of the book Card Sharks (1995), and was a polarizing figure in the trading card industry.
Upper Deck became a leader in the trading card industry almost overnight because of their quality production values. McWilliam was integral in securing the financing to produce their inaugural set of baseball cards. Under his leadership, Upper Deck also grew the market for autographed memorabilia with their “Authenticated” line of signed merchandise.
On the other hand, McWilliam was at the helm for some of Upper Deck’s biggest controversies. The company was sued by Major League Baseball for trademark infringement, and by Konami for reprinting/counterfeiting their own Yu-Gi-Oh! trading cards.
Regardless, McWilliam helped the trading card industry grow into the mufti-million dollar industry it is today.