2001 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Baseball Review

Gimmicks may come and go in the hobby, but rookies will always be a mainstay. In an ever competitive market of weekly releases throughout the year, the race is always on to have the newest and hottest rookies. In what has turned out to be one of the year's most controversial sets, 2001 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres (originally slated to be called Rookie Exclusives) consists entirely of fresh faces straight from the 2001 draft. All rookies, no stars. But are they really rookies?

When Upper Deck first announced this set, it was called Rookie Exclusives. It was to have contained all rookies from the 2001 draft pictured in their Major League uniforms. Although licensed by MLB, the set failed to gain approval from the player's association. It looked as though Rookie Exclusives wasn't going to have any rookies after all, but rather be a souped up minor league issue. With the hopes of the elusive 'RC' gone, Upper Deck changed the series' name to Prospect Premieres.

But the debate over whether or not the cards would be rookies continued. One argument pointed out with the Players' Association License they could not be considered a Major League set. The counterpoint noted that the cards did have the go ahead from MLB and the young studs were all decked out in their team threads. Personally, I take the souped up minor league side. But that doesn't mean this isn't an attractive set.

As the debate raged on, Beckett, taken as some as the Bible of the business, brought back the 'XRC' designation used widely in mid-'80s update and traded sets because of their limited availability. Although not official RCs, XRC is still a considerable jump in desirability above minor league. Increasing my enticement was the idea that if any of these guys pan out and there are no other cards of them for several years, the Prospect Premieres XRC will be just as desirable as the eventual real rookie.

This is a sleeper set if there ever was one. Unless you're an avid follower of high school and college baseball, you've probably never heard of anyone in the base set. If you're prepared to have patience with this set, it might payoff in a few years.

The design of the 100-card set is identical to that of the base 2001 Upper Deck set. I think the original intention was to make this a complimentary update series, like Topps Traded. The final 10 base cards are all autographed and serial numbered to 1,000. This is disappointing because it limits the potential for many people to finish the set. All of the photos are posed portraits, most of which are quite bland. The bronze foil on the front frequently makes the players' names difficult to read. Whoever wrote the card backs didn't really seem to know much about these kids either. Profiles are limited to three or four short sentences and no stat lines.

The number of inserts is surprisingly light. No pointless foil or die cuts here. At one:18 packs, you're all but guaranteed a game-used bat from either a former major leaguer or from Michael Jordan from back in his Birmingham Barons days. There's also plenty of variations ranging from autographed GU bats, to double and triple jerseys pieces. Finally there's the Tribute to #42 insert set honoring Jackie Robinson. Inserted at 1:750 packs, the potential treasure includes jerseys, bat pieces with or without serial numbers.

My box yielded 64 cards from the base set, none of them of the autographed variety. The three doubles weren't entirely warranted in a box size this small, but still not too bad. My all-but-guaranteed bat card was from none other than Mr. Fred Lynn whose initial claim to fame was that he was the only player to win AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP in the same year. Now that Ichiro Suzuki's done it, his legacy will probably be further forgotten.

I was opening the packs on the bus as I was heading to town to do some errands. I'd just picked them up from the post office and had nothing on me to read. After I found the Lynn I thought I was going to have a standard box, nothing fancy, but still not bad for $31. Then I came across an odd card. I pulled the card out and all I saw at first was "Congratulations."

"Sweet," I thought, "I actually got something nice that wasn't one per box."

Flip it over.

"SWEET!" Jackie Robinson game-used jersey, an immediate centerpiece to my collection. I'll be more than happy to keep this one for a long time to come.

2001 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Baseball Box Breakdown:

Packs per box: 18
Cards per pack: 4
Total cards: 69

Cards in set: 100
Singles: 64
Doubles: 3
Triples+: 0

Inserts: 2

  • Heroes of Baseball Bats (1:18): 1 (B-FL. Fred Lynn)
  • MJ Grandslam Bat Cards: 0
  • Signed Heroes of Baseball Bats (#'d /25):0
  • Heroes of Baseball Dual Jersey (1:144): 0
  • Signed Heroes of Baseball Dual Jerseys (#'d /25): 0
  • Heroes of Baseball Triple Jersey (1:144): 0
  • Signed Heroes of Baseball Triple Jerseys (#'d /25): 0
  • Tribute to #42 (1:750): 1 (J. Jackie Robinson GU Jersey)

 

2001 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres # 62 Ryan Howard Card Beckett 9 mint Phillies
2001 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres # 62 Ryan Howard Card Beckett 9 mint Phillies
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2001 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Baseball Box--Hobby--Factory Sealed--18 Packs
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2001 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Baseball Choose Your Cards
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