Even if he wasn't a household name to the average baseball fan, employees at Upper Deck in Carlsbad, Calif., cringed at hearing his name. And for anyone who looked at the company's finances, it would be impossible to avoid him.
"Every month on the profit-and-loss statement, 'The Buice Payment' was a line item wedged under gross sales and returns," said a former executive with Upper Deck, who worked with the company for 10 years.
The company was originally scheduled to pay Buice his millions over a four-year period, but due to the baseball strike in 1994, which temporarily destroyed Upper Deck's business, Buice agreed to a six-year payment plan.
"When the business wasn't good in 1995 and 1996 because of the lasting impact of the strike, we'd make sure to sell inventory out of the back door in order to help pay off Buice," the executive said. "Sales were down so much that for those couple years all our profits were going to him."
On the day in 1998 that Upper Deck cut its last check to Buice, there was a party at company headquarters and the top brass ordered everyone to work just a half day. Later that year at the Christmas party, Upper Deck CEO Richard McWilliam told employees that the company's deal with Buice was the worst deal it had ever done.
-- Darren Rovell