Upper Deck, Hobby React to Death of Richard McWilliam

The death of Upper Deck Chairman and CEO Richard McWilliam may have been a shock to many, but according to the company, he hadn’t been running the company’s day-to-day operations.  That job has fallen to Vice President of Marketing and Business Development Jason Masherah.

On Monday, Sports Marketing and Social Media Manager Chris Carlin stated that the company will move forward despite being “heartbroken” by the loss of the man who helped found Upper Deck in the late 1980s.

“I want to assure you that while his departure is a hard emotional blow, it will not affect Upper Deck’s ability to fulfill the commitments and obligations we have made with our business partners,” he wrote in an email to associates and collectors.

“The company will carry forward Richard’s vision, and we intend to continue to introduce innovating and exciting products that will reinforce Upper Deck’s position as the leader of our industry.  We appreciate your expressions of support and condolence, and look forward to working with you. We’re available to you for any questions or thoughts you may have.”

McWilliam’s company grew from a simple store front in southern California into a business that forged deals with some of the biggest names in sports history including Ken Griffey Jr., Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, Tiger Woods and Lebron James.  His cards forced rivals to step up their game and compete with the aggressive new entry that won the favor of millions of kids who became loyal adult collectors.

However, the company’s business practices also drew criticism under his leadership.

Here is some reaction from around the hobby including Tweets from current and former hobby pros, bloggers and those who worked with him.

· Mon, Jan 07 2013 18:25:25

Richard McWilliam helped to transform the sports card industry and it grew to $1.6 billion in sales by 1993 as Upper Deck led the way.Greg Ambrosius
If you don’t know who Richard McWilliam is – look on the back of an autographed Upper Deck card. Revolutionized the marketplace.Darron Markwood
.@UpperDeckSports Thank you for giving The Hobby the much-needed kick-in-the-pants and making a better baseball card. #RIPRichardChris Harris
The Steve Jobs of the trading card industry. Sad to hear about @UpperDeckEnt founder Richard P. McWilliam. http://bit.ly/118Y36r#innovatorJohnny Ballgame
Revolutionized industry. Lucky to have worked there RT @darrenrovell: Upper Deck founder Richard McWilliam passes away http://www.beckett.com/news/2013/01/upper-deck-ceo-richard-mcwilliam-dies-jason-masherah-to-take-helm-of-company/William Schwerin
Best and worst job I ever had (6yrs best, 2 years worst) @beckettmediaUpper Deck CEO Richard McWilliam dies; #UpperDeckMike Stevens
I spent over a decade working for this man. Mostly good years, but ones I don’t miss either. Right now I feel bad for his family and my friends who are still employeed at The Upper Deck. His passing will definitely bring more uncertainty for their future.Theresa McLellan Jackson
RIP Richard McWilliam @UpperDeckSports, never like to see anyone leave us early & while a fierce competitor had lasting impact on the hobbyTopps Company
Our condolences go out to the family, friends and faithful employees of Richard mcWilliam and Upper Deck… The hobby lost a pioneer..Leaf Trading Cards
RIP Richard McWilliam @UpperDeckSports. He impacted the industry like few others.SA-GE Collectibles
Our condolences are with the family and friends of Richard McWilliam, as well as everyone at Upper Deck. His leadership and innovation forever changed our industry.Press Pass, Inc.
Upper Deck’s Richard McWilliam had a lot going for him and if he’d taken the high road the hobby/industry would have been much better off.Bob Brill
Sad to hear about the sudden passing of Upper Deck’s Richard P. McWilliam. No matter what you thought of Upper Deck’s recent direction, his name appears on the back of probably some of your favorite autograph cards. Here’s hoping Upper Deck can right the ship and find a new path forward.Cardboard Legends
Regardless of your opinion of Upper Deck or Richard McWilliam, the hobby is a better place because they weren’t afraid to push the envelope.Baseball Card Exchange
Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Richard McWilliam @UpperDeckSports brought some great innovations to the hobby. RIPMastrova
#RIP Richard McWilliam, Co-Founder & CEO of @UpperDeckSports — a generous supporter of deployed troops: http://bit.ly/Sg4Jgx #SOTOperation Gratitude
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