By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor
Upper Deck co-founder and CEO Richard P. McWilliam died because of alcohol poisoning while at his home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., on Jan. 5, according to a report from NBCSanDiego.com.
According to the story, the autopsy report states that “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.” That amount is three times the legal limit and, according to the autopsy report, NBCSanDiego said, he had “alcoholic dementia and was abusing pain medication.”
McWilliam’s wife also confirmed his habits, according to the report, which she said had worsened since his having heart surgery in 2008.
The company named Jason Masherah as president. Masherah had been running the day-to-day operations of the company following McWilliam’s health issues.
Hailed as a visionary by many for changing the industry in its early days, McWilliam and Upper Deck helped arrived on the baseball scene in 1989 with a higher-end approach to card-making with tamper-proof packaging, randomly sequenced packs and holograms that prevented counterfeiting of the cards. It added NHL, NBA and NFL licenses in the following years and helped usher in some of the hobby’s innovations such as certified autographs and game-used memorabilia cards on a widespread basis, though the company was not the first in some instances.
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.