Leaf: Rookies & Stars

My Leaf: Rookies & Stars Collection (Updated December 23rd, 2021)

When the Leaf title basically ended in 1997, it basically ended in name only, (Note: Fleer did the same thing. The "Fleer" title ended in '97, but picked up the "Tradition" tag to become the "Fleer: Tradition" title in 1998.). The new and improved "Leaf: Rookies & Stars" title started in '98. One of the things the new title did was increase the # of cards in its base set. From the unimpressive 190 and 200-card sets in '96 and '97, respectively, to the 300 card set in '98. A 300-card set is only the start of where this new title was going. In addition to the larger set was a massive 11 insert sets. Now, they didn't have a single autograph set or memorabilia set in this release, but the 11 insert sets that they did include were all high-quality sets that held solid book values many years after their release, (See the 1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars: "Herman Moore" Greatest Hits #15 left). Again, the only thing missing from the earlier "Leaf" sets, in my opinion, was the large base set. The new Leaf set, "Leaf: Rookies & Stars", took care of that. Now this title was a major player in the "Super Premium" market, which is what this title basically was.

In '99, the "Leaf: Rookies & Stars" sets carried the torch and carried it well. The 300-card set was back, (See the 1999 Leaf Rookies & Stars: "Anthony McFarland" Rookie #295 right).  the insert sets increased from 11 in '98 to 13 in '99. Only this time Leaf added several top-notch memorabilia sets and a autograph set to boot.  This '99 release was a monster, some the memorabilia sets that were included weren't just jerseys, but patches or emblems, (See the 1999 Leaf Rookies & Stars: "Fred Taylor" Prime Cuts #PC2 left). Its sets like the "Prime Cuts" set that kept collectors following this title years after its release.

1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Herman Moore” Greatest Hits #15

1999 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Anthony McFarland” #295 RC

1999 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Fred Taylor” Prime Cuts #PC2

2000 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Terrell Davis” Dress 4 Success #D4S-9C

The 2000 "Leaf: Rookies & Stars" release stayed the course. As a matter of fact, this set upped the ante. Not only did Leaf increase the base set by 20 cards, but the insert sets stayed at the massive total of 13. But it wasn't just the total of insert sets that made this release truly memorable, it was what they were, (See the 2000 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Joe Montana” Joe Montana Collection  #MC-4 left).  The Joe Montana Collection was a carry-over from the '99 release that had the 

2000 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Joe Montana” Joe Montana Collection #MC-4

Leaf continued this great title in 2001. The base set dipped back down to 300, but the amazing insert sets stayed at 13. Not only that, but their masterful onslaught on the hobby terrain continued, by that I mean take a look at some of the sets they offered, (See the 2001 Leaf Rookies & Stars “Kurt Warner” Player's Collection #PC-15 below right). This time, Leaf didn't do just one player in it's "Player's Collection", they did 3. Leaf didn't stop there, they had a total of 5 memorabilia sets and a few of those had their own autograph parallel. The collector can't ask for more than that. I think fans of the Leaf title were more than satisfied with the 2001 product, (See the 2001 Leaf Rookies & Stars “Rams” Triple Threads #TT6 below right). Bottom line, the 2001 set continued this 3-year run of an absolute stunning product.

2000 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Jamal Lewis” Freshman Orientation #FO2

 John Elway Collection; two of the NFL's Greatest QBs with their own 5-card memorabilia set. Simply stunning!!  Leaf also included one of my favorite memorabilia sets of all time, the "Dress 4 Success" set. The “Dress 4 Success” set was a 50-card insert set of 10 of the NFL's hottest players. Each player had 5-cards in the set. Four of the cards each had a different piece of memorabilia with the 5th card being a combo, (See the 2000  Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Terrell Davis” Dress 4 Success #D4S-9C right). Simply awesome. Even the other insert sets that weren't memorabilia sets were very nice, (See the 2000 Leaf Rookies & Stars:  “Jamal Lewis” Freshman Orientation #FO2 below right)

2001 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Kurt Warner” Player's Collection  #PC15

In 2002, Leaf continued on its star-studded pace. The 300-card set, it's mainstay was back, as was it's huge boat-load of insert sets, this year, a staggering 15 sets. The only drawback was the "Dress 4 Success" title. In years past, this was the insert set that all the others in its release were judged, not in 2002, (See the 2002 Leaf Rookies & Stars: "LaDainian Tomlinson" Dress for Success #DS1 below right). The set had only 6 cards and didn't carry the same aura as past sets.  However, that torch may have been passed to the "Initial Steps" insert set, (See the 2002 Leaf Rookies & Stars: "David Carr" Initial Steps #IS25 left). What a great Rookie card memorabilia set, this was.

2001 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “Rams” Triple Threads #TT6

2002 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “David Carr” Initial Steps #IS25

In summary, the "Leaf: Rookies & Stars" sets weren't just any year-after-year release that clogged up the hobby landscape. They were a major player in the high-end football card market. As a matter of fact, each set from 1999 to 2001 ended up being on my "Favorite Master Sets" list. That shows you how much I thought of this title. Although 2002, seemed to dip a little bit, I still look forward to collecting this title for years to come. 

I have complete sets:

 

Leaf Rookies & Stars Series:

1) 1998 Leaf Rookies & Stars Set

    A) Greatest Hits Insert

    B) Ticket Masters Insert

    C) Cross-Training Insert

    D) MVP Contenders Insert

    E) Standing Ovation Insert

    F) Touchdown Club Insert

    G) Freshman Orientation Insert

    H) Great American Heroes Insert

    I) Extreme Measures Die-Cut Insert - ( 3 / 10 )

2) 1999 Leaf Rookies & Stars Set

    A) Dress for Success Insert

    B) Game Plan Insert

    C) Freshmen Orientation Insert

    D) Great American Heroes Insert

    E) John Elway Collection Insert

    F) Prime Cuts Insert - Incomplete ( 12 / 15 )

3) 2000 Leaf Rookies & Stars Set - Do Not Have

    A) Freshmen Orientation Insert

    B) Joe Montana Collection Insert

    C) Dress for Success Insert - Incomplete ( 42 / 50 )

    D) Prime Cuts Insert - Incomplete ( 8 / 30 )

    E) Joe Montana Collection Autos Insert - Incomplete ( 1 / 5 )

4) 2001 Leaf Rookies & Stars Set - Incomplete ( 100 / 300 )

    A) Slideshow Insert

    B) Triple Threads Insert

    C) Cross-Training Insert

    D) Dress for Success Insert

    E) Statistical Standouts Insert    

    F) Freshman Orientation Insert

    G) Player's Collection - Incomplete ( 14 / 15 )

    H) Player’s Collection Autographs - Incomplete ( 1 / 2 )

     I) Rookie Autographs Insert - Incomplete ( 1 / 50 )

5) 2002 Leaf Rookies & Stars Set - Do Not Have

    A) Initial Steps Insert

    B) Rookie Masks Insert

    C) Dress for Success Insert

    D) Freshman Orientation Insert

6) 2003 Leaf Rookies & Stars Set - Do Not Have

7) 2004 Leaf Rookies & Stars Set - Do Not Have

8) 2005 Leaf Rookies & Stars Set - Do Not Have

9) 2006 Leaf Rookies & Stars Set - Do Not Have

10) 2007 Leaf Rookies & Stars Set - Do Not Have

     A) Dress for Success Longevity Parallel Insert

 

2002 Leaf Rookies & Stars: “LaDainian Tomlinson” Dress for Success #DS1