First up on my list for Throwback Month is a one-time release from Topps that came out during the 2001 baseball calendar year Topps Fusion. The 2001 baseball card calendar was pretty eventful. It was a good year for rookie cards with the release of the first Albert Pujols and Ichiro cards and also featured the first edition of the Topps Heritage set. If you go back and try to find old wax to open from 2001 it can be pricey and difficult to find because almost every set had a Pujols or an Ichiro rookie many of which are short printed or serial numbered. Then there are a few that have no Pujols and no Ichiro. Fusion is one of them.
I always think of this set as sort of a greatest hits album for baseball cards. The set does not really do anything new for baseball cards, but here it is in your collection. How did it get here? Don't you basically have all of these cards in other sets? More a less yes, but they are still fun to see all in one place. For the Fusion set Topps took several of it's brands: Stadium Club, Gallery, Bowman's Best, Finest, and Gold Label and merged them all into one set. The designs were changed slightly for their previously released designs, but you could definitely see the resemblance.
Here's a look at the different sets within the set:
I would have collected any of these sets by themselves and I really overlooked the fact that this set was just a rehash of a bunch of different brands. In fact, all five brands were released again during the 2001 baseball card calendar. I actually like some of the designs used in the Fusion set better than the regularly released set. My only real fault with this set is the fact that Topps included a bunch of rookie cards in this release (Mike Jacobs and Marco Scutaro are the notable names) and placed all of the rookie cards in the Gold Label brand. Even in 2001 most of the rookie cards were in Bowman products and the Fusion set would have done well to place them with the appropriate brand. While Gold Label is not around today, it was always a small set with veteran players.
Fusion also had some really nice autographs too. Like any set there are naturally a few duds. Jason Hart, Phil Wilson, and Tony Alvarez are all "prospects" who signed for the set, but never quite made it anywhere. There are also some solid veteran players like Jason Marquis (He has a nice autograph) DerreK Lee, Geoff Jenkins, and Barry Zito. Then there are some really good autographs. Several Chipper Jones, A-Rod, Josh Hamilton, Todd Helton, and Warren Spahn to name a few. The Spahn autograph is shaky, but it's an on card autograph. My favorite is the Helton...
There are also relics in the set, including some nice looking dual relics, but I never really got into them. Overall, this is a really nice set from 2001 and is one of the more affordable sets from that calendar year due to the absence of Pujols and Ichiro. Wax boxes of this product can be found at reasonable prices or you can piece together the set through lots and singles and not spend a fortune. Yes, this is a rehash in many ways, but it's well done.