Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Complete sets: 2001 Topps Golden Anniversary

I bought quite a bit of 2001 Topps back when it came out.  It was a big deal--Topps was turning 50 and they had some cool stuff going on for that "gold" anniversary, including the precursor to the recent Giveaways where they included actual original Topps cards in packs.  Of course, they were all from about 1985-1989, so pretty much not any different from today's version!

Still, it was an exciting product to break with lots of fun stuff, including Ichiro's RC and some pretty nice inserts.  Of the 1% of inserts Topps produced in the last 10-15 years that WASN'T a tired old reprint set (#occupytopps), one that I chose to collect was 2001's Golden Anniversary.

This was a 50 card set broken up into five groups of 10 players, each with a common theme related to gold.  The first 10 are "Golden Greats" and are all obvious baseball legends.  The next group is "Gold Nuggets," the big, valuable pieces teams have unearthed.  Next comes "Glistening Gold," 10 current stars whose careers appeared to be on the upswing.  Following that we have "Hidden Gold," the inevitable group of prospect throw-ins.  Finally, the last 10 cards are actually a pretty cool theme:  "Going for Gold," a group of MLBers who starred for Team USA.

These cards weren't all that hard to pull, plus I bought a ton of boxes/packs, as I mentioned, and I'm sure I bought/traded for the rest I needed, so this one's been complete for a while.  Since I was looking for something to post and remembered I hadn't scanned a complete set in a while, here for your enjoyment are all 50 cards from 2001 Topps Golden Anniversary:

A couple observations, should you care to continue reading:
  • My favorite grouping is Ripken/Gwynn/Griffey/Maddux (I'll just pretend McGwire isn't there), which is just an outstanding combo of four of my all-time favorites.
  • You definitely can't go wrong with the 10 "Golden Greats," though, not by a long shot.  It's not easy to narrow HOFers down to a group of 10, and really Topps shouldn't have included the crappy prospects at their expense, but such is life.
  • Jeter/Garciaparra/A-Rod was another nice nod to an important trio at the time, three big, offensive SSs who changed the game (you know, after Ripken, Trammel and Larkin).
  • Again, did Topps need to cut out good players for stupid reasons?  Even if it's 2001 I don't need two cards of McGwire and Garciaparra; if they fit into the "Going for Gold" subset, which I already said was a cool idea, then put someone else in their place elsewhere!
  • My other big gripe is the rookies, because you always try to project who'll be good, and the risk outweighs the reward.  Burrell and Zito have had solid careers while Sabathia, Hamilton and Gonzalez have turned into great players, but when the rest inevitably failed to pan out, their presence cheapened the set.
  • Ok, those complaints aside, I do like the player selection in general, even in hindsight.  A set with all those HOFers, the quartet of my favorites, Barry Larkin PLUS quite a few other stars (Bagwell, Frank Thomas, Chipper, et al) on this design is a fun one.  The Chrome versions actually looked quite nice too, but would have been too difficult/costly for me at the time.  So I'm happy I put this one together, and I hope you all enjoyed it too!  Let me know what you think in the comments, if you collected this set yourself, or whatever.


  1. pretty sweet. No idea they even exisited until now.
    Sooo.... if you have dupes of any of the Braves, shoot me an email ;)

    1. Yeah, they looked pretty nice, and that was back in the day when you could pull these AND a complete set from a box! Sorry, no dupes anymore.

  2. Hey Dennis,
    Great post. I didn't buy much 2001 Topps when it came out and I don't know if I ever even had one of these in hand, might have to go find that Frank Thomas for my PC though. Amazing how much Topps has recycled from this set when looking at 2012. My only complaint is I'd have love to seen a couple of the backs to see what they look like. Cheers.

    1. I happened to be collecting quite a bit at the time and we just went crazy with these because the prices were still reasonable back then and they were plentiful and fun to open.

      I threw in a scan of one each of the backs just for you--thanks for the suggestion, not sure how I forgot to do that this time.

  3. It's weird to see Canseco as a Yankee and Rickey as a Mariner, but the set looks very nice.

    I actually think Topps did very good (or got very lucky) with a 50% success rate with the prospects. Can you imagine how great it would have been if they managed to get Pujols in there? But I can't fault Topps for the lackluster 2000 rookie class, although the 2001 class was very solid if not spectacular. At least four of the players that didn't do much were very solid prospects back then. One more reason why I don't understand why people are prospectors, most don't work out even the "can't miss" ones.

    1. Yeah, I meant to note both of those guys, and again, just plain forgot. While you're right that in the end Topps picked a reasonable number of successful prospects, the ones that failed, like I said, cheapen the set, so give them their own set! I think Topps should have done something like having 20 Golden Greats (more legends/HOFers), 20 stars named whatever you'd like, then 10 of the Going for Golds.

      I also don't get prospecting, but I don't try to sell cards more than a couple times a year, not even as a hobbyist, much less as a career. That means I tend to collect stuff I want to keep, so while I do get excited when a player I collect blows up, I don't get dollar signs in my eyes and run off to sell them. Some people make that work, I guess, and that's cool too. But like you said, high risk, high reward.