Report: Upper Deck Co-Founder Richard McWilliam’s Death Caused by Alcohol Poisoning

The San Diego County medical examiner says Richard McWilliam, co-founder of the Upper Deck Company, died from alcohol poisoning.

That’s according to an autopsy report obtained by the city’s NBC affiliate, KNSD, which indicates McWilliam had a blood-alcohol level of 0.27—more than three times the legal limit– when his body was found inside his Rancho Santa Fe home on January 5.  It also indicates McWilliam had been binge drinking for several days.  He was 59 years old.

McWilliam had a history of drug and alcohol abuse according to family members and his health became a public concern at least a year ago.

In March of 2012, lawyers for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar attempted to have McWilliam record a taped deposition during the Hall of Famer’s court case over the use of a photo on one of its trading cards but McWilliam, according to transcripts, staggered into the proceedings looking flushed and proceeded to “slur his speech, offer incoherent statements and became belligerent”.   After a few minutes, the deposition was halted by McWilliam’s attorney for ‘health reasons’.

Abdul-Jabbar’s attorney asked McWilliam if he was under the influence on two separate occasions but McWilliam said he wasn’t.

A few weeks later at a pre-trial hearing, McWilliam didn’t show up for the settlement conference.

In the same news release in which it announced his death, Jason Masherah was named Upper Deck’s new president.

“Richard was a thought leader and visionary in the trading card industry. It grew from a hobby for some baseball fans into a multi-billion dollar industry because of the multiple innovations that Upper Deck introduced under his leadership,” Masherah said. “He built a company that has weathered difficult times for the entire industry and is well positioned for future success.”

Here is the report from KNSD.