Inserted in 2001 Topps Series I baseball (1:25 regular hobby/retail packs) was a set called 2001 Topps A Look Ahead. In 2001, the Topps company celebrated their 50th anniversary of entering the baseball card business. Many of the insert sets created that year took a look back through their long history of being involved in the game (Golden Anniversary, Noteworthy, Through the Years). Topps was not only celebrating their past, but looking forward to its future, striving to continue the traditions it set back in 1951. The cards themselves had the player in front of a blue shaded background, where the years (2001, 2002, 2003, et.al.) circled around the player (as if entering a time warp).
The futures of 10 players were pondered in this set (with the predictions from Topps):
- Vladimir Guerrero (owns the instincts to win a Triple Crown)
- Derek Jeter (his greatest days may be ahead)
- Todd Helton (could very well approach .400)
- Alex Rodriguez (seems destined to challenge for MVP honors throughout the decade)
- Ken Griffey, Jr. (Hank Aaron's record is well within his grasp)
- Nomar Garciaparra (seems to be more [batting titles] ahead)
- Chipper Jones (the 00's could be his golden road to Cooperstown)
- Ivan Rodriguez (on the verge of the greatest season ever by a catcher)
- Pedro Martinez (Roger Clemens' record of five Cys may one day fall)
- Rick Ankiel (should live up to his All-Star potential)
Some hefty predictions by the writers. While some of them have come to fruition (A-Rod has been in the running for AL MVP throughout the decade, winning three times for example), others were a little too lofty (see Rick Ankiel, then again, not even Topps could have predicted that he'd come back to the Cardinals as a slugging outfielder later in the decade).
At ten cards, it was a really easy set to complete, whether by opening packs or going to shows. I remember going to a card show and finding nine of the ten cards from this set. The one that the guy didn't have wound up being the card I already had (Nomar). So I offered to pay the value of a complete set instead of paying for each card seperately (which came to about $20.00 for nine cards, compared to $35 if I chose to pay for the nine cards alone). One of many insert sets that Topps put out that year, it was not one of the most talked about as others (compared to the 50-card sets like the aforementioned Topps Through the Years, Golden Anniversary, and 30 card A Tradition Continues from Series I). The insert theme has not been used since. Maybe Topps will bring it back when it celebrates it's 60th.
Totally underrated, fairly inexpensive, not easy to find. Find one and get it to add to your 2001 set when you see it. It's always fun to look back and see what the future held for some of baseball's best players.