Upper Deck Chairman Richard McWilliam Honored as Industry's 'Most Influential' Person of the
Past 20 Years at Annual Hawaii Trade Conference
Upper Deck's Premiere (1989) Baseball Card Release Recognized As Most Influential Event
of the Past 20 Years
Upper Deck Company chairman and founder Richard McWilliam was honored this past week at the sports
collectible industry's annual trade convention in Hawaii as the industry's "most influential"
person of the past 20 years. As part of its 20th anniversary celebration, organizers of The Hawaii
Trade Conference held a luncheon in which McWilliam and his company were honored for changing the face
of the industry.
"From the beginning, Upper Deck has set out to build on the tradition of quality, and innovation
in the collectibles category," said Richard McWilliam, founder of Upper Deck. "Our 1989 UD
Baseball set is widely regarded as the product that raised the bar in the marketplace. With just this
one product, we managed to change how sports cards were created and how consumers viewed those products.
We pride ourselves on implementing new backgrounds, photography, and printing methods for the enjoyment
In addition to McWilliam's award, Upper Deck was also recognized for the debut of its legendary 1989
Baseball trading card set, which included the then 19-year-old centerfielder Ken Griffey, Jr., as the
"most influential" event of the past 20 years. The list of nominees were created and voted
upon by the editorial sports staff of F+W Publications (organizers of the conference and the parent
organization of popular collectibles magazines such as Sports Collectors Digest, Trade Fax, Tuff Stuff,
and Card Trade).
"There are a number of individuals whose efforts have had a tremendous influence on the growth of
the sports collectibles industry over the past 20 years," said Dean Listle, publisher of the sports
group at F+W Publications. "However, no one individual has influenced the marketplace in as many
ways as Richard McWilliam. The arrival of the Upper Deck brand in 1989 changed the dynamics of the marketplace,
as did the signing of athletes such as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and LeBron James to exclusive autograph
deals, the acquisition of the license to distribute Yu-Gi-Oh! trading cards, and several other innovations."
Upper Deck has a rich tradition of altering the landscape in the industry and reached another significant
benchmark when it became the first trading card company to produce products in all four major professional
sports. Upper Deck led off by signing an agreement with Major League Baseball in 1989, the National Hockey
League in 1990, and finally with the National Basketball Association and the National Football League in 1991.
Upper Deck brands, which bear an exclusive trademark hologram, have been named "Card set of the Year"
every year since 1989, have ranked number one, and earned favorite brand status with card collectors.
Additionally, McWilliam and Upper Deck routinely explore opportunities outside of its core business of
authentic sports memorabilia, collectibles, and trading card games - Upper Deck is the global distributor of
the world's most popular trading card game, Yu-Gi-Oh!. Currently, there are 700,000 players registered to
play weekly in Upper Deck sanctioned tournaments in more than 7,000 retail and hobby stores across the U.S.
This success has since led to partnerships with some of the most widely recognized international brands such
as Nike, Bratz, Marvel, DC Comics, Konami Corporation, Nickelodeon, Winx and Lego.
Source: The Upper Deck Co, LLC
Date: March 10, 2005
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