LEAKED MEMO: Upper Deck / Razor

There has been a rumor going around for months about just who is funding Brian Gray’s Razor trading card company. For a long time it was believed that none other than Upper Deck was in charge but none of the higher ups in the online community would accept or even acknowledge the hearsay.

I recently received an anonymous letter with a memo from the Major League Baseball Player’s Association regarding Razor & Upper Deck. In the memo, dated just a couple of days ago, it speaks on how Upper Deck’s C.E.O., Richard McWilliam, has admitted to funding and controlling Razor.

If you recall, Razor has an exclusive contract to produce trading cards of #1 draft pick, Tim Beckham. Ironically, 2008 Bowman Chrome was considered to have a less than stellar checklist according to many serious prospectors. Like them or not, Razor made a serious dent in the prospect card market in 2008.

The information in this memo has not been verified by anyone.

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47 comments

  1. I thought this was old news? The owner of the card shop I visit has been telling anyone who will listen since Signature came out that Upper Deck owns Razor.

  2. Can’t be true. Brian Gray is very interactive with customers, and engages in dialogues with people about customer service issues. Anybody associated with Upper Deck wouldn’t allow that – it’s not what they’re about.

    /end sarcasm

  3. wow!!! That blows me away, simply because they ran Just Minors out of business, which means UD funded Razor to do just that. Ouch what a black eye for the prospecting community.

  4. Wow. This rises above all of the “Card Sharks” shenanigans by Upper Deck. If this is true, it’s safe to say that Upper Deck’s baseball license will soon be gone. And good riddance – not only does Upper Deck demonstrate a complete lack of ethics, but their card products are utterly horrible too. The baseball card landscape will be much, much better with only Topps and Donruss/Panini producing cards next year.

    And one more thing … I will be absolutely thrilled if this triggers the end of “Razor” too …

  5. What does it mean? Why the secret?

    Is this McWilliam acknowledgement that UD cannot be saved or restructured and his way to stay in the card business with a small, nimble company when he decides to sell upperdeck?

    What will it do to Razor sales? I’m personally a fan of UD products but I know there is a big anti-ud contingent out there who were ectatic with the new quality high-end alternative.

    So many questions…

  6. I have known Brian at Razor for years. I would bet you anything he doesnt go anywhere. Razor’s entertainment products are very hot. Ricky

  7. I 4 one am glad someone is keeping Topps honest
    Be careful what you guys wish for cause ya might get it

  8. Friendly he may be, but he doesn’t respond to email, unless it’s because I’m just not that important yet. 😉

    -Jason

  9. wow. This is very interesting. I had no idea about this relationship.
    And the plot thickens.

  10. Won’t affect my spending habits at all. I’ll continue to buy just as much UD/Razor as ever. As long as they maintain exclusive contracts with the majority of their players, they’ll continue to have a customer in me. Bash me for it all you want.

  11. Wow that is cool stuff. This is why I believe blogs don’t need the companies’ info/products. They need the blogs, not the other way around.

  12. Do you guys really care that much about this? I agree with Griffiths that my buying/spending habits aren’t affected at all by whatever card politics go on behind the scenes.

  13. I wonder if Dick McWillie is ever going to understand that Carlsbad is looking more and more like Mordor to the Hobby these days, even if this does not turn out to be true. Thanks for being willing to be the one to carry the Ring to Mount Doom, Mario.

    No wonder UD got laughed out of the building when it came to fighting vs. Eisner/Tornante for the acquisition of Topps a couple years ago. At least Eisner and Co. had actual cash plus finances, rather than trusting Dick McWillie to come up with heavily leveraged financing that would have surely torpedoed the proposed combined UD company with the advent of the current bank panic and recession.

    At least one guy got out of UD ahead of the game with his reputation intact and without hurting anyone in the process.

    I groan every time I see that UD CEO’s facsimile autograph congratulating me on the back of “player worn” swatch cards. Maybe now he’ll have to sell some swanky digs to keep Razor afloat after this.

    Stay Classy, San Diego.

  14. Yep, it won’t change the way I spend either: I have never bought anything Razor, and haven’t bought anything Upper Deck since this past winter.

  15. Drama… I sense a new punkrockpainted card design will be coming your way soon. Keep up the good work, Mario. You never fail to entertain/amaze me.

    Travis

  16. The reason why these cases should lead you to decide which company to buy your cases from is that if they lie, cheat, and hide things like this what are they not telling you about the cards youre buying? What kind of customer service will they provide? I can believe the hobby has gotten this way because they have gotten far removed from honesty and collectors and far to close to money.

  17. Brian Grey of the Razor Company should be given the 2008/09 trading card industry man of the year award for trying to do what is right for everyone that cares about cards. His vision of signing draft picks to exclusive agreements is good for Razor, Upper Deck, MLBPA, MLB Properties, collectors, retailers, and most importantly Topps. Topps stands to benefit the most from this as they make far better products than Upper Deck. Better product, more established name within the baseball card community, real rookies in every release instead of 2-3 per year all makes for Topps being the biggest winner here. Brian Grey is doing what is best for everyone that collects cards, sells cards, buys cards, makes cards, is pictured on cards and most importantly loves trading cards. Keep up the good work Mr. Brian Grey my trading card Man of the Year.

  18. To all those who actually know Brian Grey, he’s a GOOD man ! Solid ideals and his vision is a good thing for the hobby. IF UD were smart, they’d hire him to revamp some products and add his ideas to their creative team. REALLY, who cares who puts their money where, if McWilliam loaned $ to Razor or not, doesn’t matter. I know Brian has been running the company, not anyone else for many years. I’ll support Razor & Brian & look forward to his next signature series product.

  19. Should Topps A&G replace the Bernie Madoff card in the Biggest Hoaxes, Hoodwinks and Bamboozles subset with a Richard McWilliam card?

    Boy, what a firestorm that would set off.

  20. Brian Grey is nothing but a shady dealer turned owner of a card company. With all he supect moves they have made in the past year or so while BG was in charge. No wonder certain message boards are pretending not to be associted with this clown they dont want to ruin their stream of money with this shadester. No he just basically pays them to post what he wants and no longer has to visit.

    Isnt it funny the company who famously backdoored cards in the 90s funds a guy who wont serial number certain cards? What would stop this guy from doing the same exact thing? By releasing his cards on EBAY he has proven he dont mind cornering the market therefore nothing is out of the question. lets aso not forget about the razorworks cards fiasco. The man is a dealer first, he really only cares about his pocket.

  21. Can we check the IP addresses of the Kool-Aid drinkers who have decided to shop up?

    What has Razor done that is original or innovative?

    They threw a bunch of money around to sign draftees to exclusive deals, then produced cheap, ugly cards, with horrible photography of kids in their high school and college uniforms.

    How is anything that they’ve done good for anyone?

  22. Charles, according to WordPress and their IP address, they are both first time commenters.

    This news item was linked on four different forums and judging by some of the reactions… you can lead a horse to water, well you know the rest.

  23. To those who DON’T KNOW, Razor Presidential signature edition.. ALL of the auto’s were coa’d from JSA OR PSA ! The 1 auction ebay halted, PSA admitted they made a “mistake” ! Brian Grey was as upfront as possible with that product.
    On to the subject of backdooring cards.. check out early-mid 90’s topps and 89 UD … talk about being backdoored ! They opened the doors and cards were flowing out like the red sea being parted by Mel Brooks in “history of the world”. That’s the old days and that stuff doesn’t happen like it did by far. Bashing card companies won’t help the hobby and those who do are miserable people who should leave the hobby entirely.

  24. Actually Scott, neither JSA or PSA had anything to do with Pres Cuts. They were simply slabbed by Beckett. They were never certified and I believe the final count was three different cards that were not legit and a few others were questionable. Some may not know, but I do! If we don’t bash the card companies for being crooked, we’re giving them the green light to continue their shenanigans. Someones got to keep them honest, we can’t look to Beckett to do it.

  25. I also threw it up on the Beckett boards. I figure I might as well keep in form and continue to piss them off. I got a feeling I might have to make another login soon.

  26. I love Night Owl’s idea! I’d love to see cards of both Richard McWilliam AND Brian Gray in the A&G “Biggest Hoaxes, Hoodwinks and Bamboozles” subset!

  27. Yeah, we should stop bashing thugs and criminals and let them continue mugging and raping everyone.

    Overstatement? Certainly. Makes the point? Definitely.

  28. gritz,

    Actually, PSA and/or JSA have authenticated every cut in the product PRIOR to being slabbed by beckett. In addition, only TWO cards were ever questioned (neither PROVEN non-authentic).

    While I agree that I would prefer a JSA slab, I feel comfortable with any cut signatures they use that are run through PSA/JSA prior to slabbing.

  29. nope,

    ACTUALLY, Mario, myself, and several others happen to post on a message board where Brian himself addressed this issue several times. In the process, he admitted that NOT every cut was authenticated by PSA/JSA.

    The absolute most that Brian would say is that they were all bought from what Razor/BG thought to be reputable dealers, and that most were sent to “independant 3rd party authenticators” for verification.

    This is why they were only “slabbed” by Beckett, and not “authenticated” in any way.

    AND, gritz was correct. At least THREE cards were called in to question. 1 was being called a secretarial signature, and 2 were thought to be auto-penned.

    If you’re going to drink the kool-aid and take a bullet for Razor/BG make sure you have all the info 1st.

  30. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, and thank you to Mario for his diligence. As a side note, if Sportcardfile’s desire is to do the same, earlier disclosure would have been welcomed.

  31. Not to mention the bigger issue to me, the authenticators were exposed on many fronts too.

  32. sure, having hundreds of card makers out there was too busy, but now is just not fun.. there topps, upperdeck, and upperdecks puppets?

    i think late 90s pinnacle was making the best cards. now its just a business powerplay it seems like its less about the cards sometimes

  33. Gullible people. While it is entirely possible that McWilliams bought into Razor it is HIGHLY doubtful that he “admitted” that to someone at MLB. IT is also not plausible that because of unsubstantiated rumours that Upper Deck has “lost” their MLB license. That license expires after this season and is up for grabs to the highest bidder(s)

    Get a grip here.

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