Richard P. McWilliam (October 20, 1953 – January 5, 2013) was the chairman and co-founder of Upper Deck Company, a successful and award-winning Carlsbad-based collectibles business that specializes in trading cards for Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, National Football League and Major League Soccer. Before McWilliam was involved with the Upper Deck Company, he was a Cal State Fullerton graduate and former certified public accountant.
Besides Upper Deck, McWilliam had another business, JetSource. JetSource was voted one of the top 40 fixed-base operations for jet-setters in America among the thousands of such airport rest stops for fuel, private hangars and other services.
In 1993, McWilliam controlled Upper Deck with a 27 percent stake, and was the only original partner still active in company management. At that time, McWilliam became the target of a lawsuit. Anthony Passante, a former lawyer for Upper Deck, sued for a 3 percent share in the company. McWilliam had dismissed Passante in December 1988. Passante portrayed the lawsuit as a case of friendship betrayed, asserting that he had trusted McWilliam, a friend and high school classmate. He felt that their words were their bond.
On May 21, 1993, an Orange County jury awarded Passante $33 million, based on valuing Upper Deck at $1 billion. McWilliam's evaluation was $250 million, and a witness for Passante put it at $1.5 billion. The process of evaluating the company forced McWilliam to disclose that the company lost $15 million on a line of Looney Tunes sports cards and another loss of $6 million on a poster featuring the 1992 Olympics "Dream Team" of basketball players from the United States.
On July 2, Orange County Superior Court Judge James Cook tossed out the ruling, citing insufficient evidence and misconduct by Passante’s attorney, who filed a notice of appeal with the state Court of Appeals. Two months after the judge's ruling, Upper Deck released SP Baseball, a premium line of baseball cards.
McWilliam was part of another conflict with a former Upper Deck stakeholder. Former major league pitcher DeWayne Buice helped Upper Deck secure a licence with the Major League Baseball Player’s Association. Buice had collected $2.8 million, although he believed he was owed much more. After a battle over his stake in the company was settled in court, he became a millionaire who reportedly made $17 million on the deal, far more than what he ever made as a baseball player. On the day in 1998 that Upper Deck cut its last check to DeWayne Buice, there was a party at company headquarters. The top brass ordered everyone to work just a half day. Later that year at the Christmas party, Upper Deck CEO Richard McWilliam told employees that the company's deal with Buice was the worst deal it had ever done. In May 2005, Richard McWilliam was honored at the sports collectible industry's annual trade convention in Hawaii as the industry's "most influential" person of the past 20 years. In addition to McWilliam's award, Upper Deck was also recognized for the debut of its legendary 1989 Baseball trading card set designed and produced by Robert Young Pelton. Author Pete William's book "Card Sharks" covers the rise and fall of Upper Deck and McWilliam's ousting of the founders and designer who built the company from a start up to $260 million in annual sales in the first three years. McWilliam's decision to counterfeit error cards is also documented in the book. A 2010 article in the New York Post by Peter Lauria " Hitting the 'deck', Suit puts big crease in baseball card maker" detailed McWilliam's role in the scandal.
McWilliam had a wife named Vivianne, and the two have three children. McWilliam spent nearly $21 million on a 9,455-square-foot (878.4 m2) apartment in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York that comes with a monthly cleaning bill of just over $9,000.
Since 1995, McWilliam had been the main source of funding for the Adopt-A-Creek trout-stocking program. It was founded after the Department of Fish and Game began planting fewer fish and smaller fish in the area. From 1995 to 2006, McWilliam donated more than $100,000 to Adopt-A-Creek, The money, put together with donations from local merchants, has paid for the raising of rainbow trout.
McWilliam died in Rancho Santa Fe, California on January 5, 2013, of unknown causes. He had a history of heart problems, including open heart surgery in 2008. On March 8, NBC San Diego reported that an autopsy report from the county medical examiner obtained by NBC 7 revealed the cause of death for Richard McWilliam, co-founder of the Carlsbad-based Upper Deck Trading Card Company to be alcohol poisoning. The report says McWilliam had been binge drinking for several days and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.27 in his system at the time of his death.
The report goes on to say that McWilliam had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, had alcoholic dementia and was abusing pain medication. His wife told investigators her husband had "chronically abused alcohol for the past three decades" and that the abuse worsened after heart surgery in 2008. She also told investigators McWilliam had suffered at least three seizures in the last year of his life.
His wife also told investigators McWilliam had "used cocaine and marijuana when he was in his 20s but had not used illicit substances since." The medical examiner's report said no obvious suicide notes or illicit drugs were found at McWilliam's estate at the time of his death.
In 2012, the 59-year-old Upper Deck co-founder had also been under a court-ordered conservatorship. He promised a judge he would go to rehab, but according to the medical examiner's report, McWilliam relapsed that same day.
- "Richard P. McWilliam, Co-Founder and CEO of The Upper Deck Company, Dies Unexpectedly". Retrieved January 7, 2013.
- NBC 7 San Diego. [Source: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Upper-Deck-Co-Founder-Richard-McWilliam-Died-of-Alcohol-Poisoning-Report-196240461.html#ixzz2MyuUbdGu "Upper Deck Co-Founder Died of Alcohol Poisoning: ME Report Source: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Upper-Deck-Co-Founder-Richard-McWilliam-Died-of-Alcohol-Poisoning-Report-196240461.html#ixzz2MyvY4f26"].