Fleer had actually started to lean on this concept with it's release of the 1998 Fleer Tradition set. The packaging that year featured Mickey Mantle. The set had a Mickey Mantle card with an old color photo of the Commerce Comet in his classic left-handed hitting stance. The following year Fleer stepped up it's game a little bit further by putting Stan Musial on the packaging, issuing a Musial insert set chronicalling the Cardinal great's career, and then also issuing a set of 1963 Fleer themed cards with modern players and Stan the Man.
In 2000, Fleer committed to issuing a base set that was completely vintage in theme. More than a decade later it's easy to see that this set has had a lasting impression on the hobby. A quick scan of the checklist will show that the set has little to offer in the way of important rookies, so collecting this set is just simply about owning a great looking set of cards. End of story.
2000 Fleer Tradition Cal Ripken Jr.
The basic design of the cards Fleer borrowed from the 1954 Topps set. I guess since they used the 1963 Fleer set design in the 1999 Fleer set they didn't want to skip and borrow the design of the Fleer's next baseball card issue in 1980. Hmm. Well, it's a great looking set to borrow from and Fleer did a great job of recreating the 1954 theme on these cards. The set was a total of 450 cards and would eventually include an Update set released in factory set form. My only complaint about this set revolves around some of the insert sets. Let's look at a few of the designs.
2000 Fleer Tradition Cal Ripken Halls Well
2000 Fleer Tradition Adam Kennedy Who To Watch
I never quite understood how Fleer created a great set of vintage themed cards, but then issued a handful of modern die-cut, translucent insert cards. I guess maybe they were trying to appeal to the modern collector, but I am not going to complain too much. There were several insert sets that shined in this release including one of my favorite relic inserts.
First off, Fleer did issue autographs in this set and they were actually on card autographs. Fleer had their autograph cards at the time run throughout all of their card releases and were either issued on the Fresh Ink insert or Autographics. The Tradition set had the Fresh Ink autographs and included Alex Rodriguez, Cal Ripken, and Pedro Martinez. I have a Tim Salmon.
2000 Fleer Tradition Fresh Ink Tim Salmon Autograph
The best insert set from this release was the Club 3000 set which focused on hitters with 3000 hits and pitchers with 3000 strikeouts. The cards came in a plain insert, which was die cut into the shape of the number 3000. There were also relic versions which featured pieces of jersey or bat. The relic version came in three versions with one relic being common, two relics being slightly hard, and three relics being very difficult.
2000 Fleer Tradition Stan Musial Club 3000 Jersey
Like the 2000 Fleer Tradition Set? Not in my Top 50 is the 2002 Upper Deck Vintage set. Just like Fleer, I think Upper Deck had little tradition of it's own to use in creating a set. The 1989 Upper Deck set is an awesome set it hardly strikes me as vintage. Instead, Upper Deck used the 1971 Topps design.
2002 Upper Deck Vintage Ken Griffey Jr.
The 1971 Topps set is one of the all time best designs and highly sought after sets. Upper Deck did a great job of recreating this set of cards. The base set was a little shorter than the Fleer Tradition at 300 cards. The Upper Deck Vintage also did a great job with the inset sets. The inserts were generally pretty simple in design and followed the design of the base set very well.
2002 Upper Deck Vintage Sandlot Star Ken Griffey Jr.
The autograph insets and jersey inserts were very tough pulls. All of the autographs were dual signature cards with long odds of finding one. A search on Ebay right now yields zero copies of any of these cards. Zero.
2002 Upper Deck Vintage Sammy Sosa Jersey Card
The base jersey cards are a little simpler to come across and still over a clean design similar to the 1971 Topps cards. There are also many multiple jersey cards in the 2002 vintage set that are also difficult to run across.