The cards were distributed in both hobby and retail outlets. Hobby boxes came 6 cards per pack and 18 packs per box. Retail boxes were 3 cards per pack and were 8 packs per blister box.
The base set is a 198 card set. The first 100 cards are veteran major league baseball players.
Cards 101-150 were rookie and prospect cards that were serial numbered to 585 copies each. Cards 151-200 were Hall of Fame players that were serial numbered to 1755 copies each. Cards 162 (Sandy Koufax) and 185 (Robin Roberts) were not intended for public release but a handful of copies made their way into packs. These cards are extremely rare.
The main parallel set is called Timeless Tributes. It parallels the entire 198 card set and each card is serial numbered to 100 copies. The cards were randomly inserted into all packs. It is currently believed that no copies of Timeless Tributes exist for #162 and #185.
The other parallel set for 2001 Donruss Classics was the Significant Signatures set. 83 of the cards numbered 101-200 are paralleled in this set. The stated odds were 1:18 packs or 1 per hobby box. Cards numbered 101-150 have sticker autographs while cards numbered 151-200 are hand signed. A very large number of these cards were inserted as exchange cards. Redemptions for #162 Sandy Koufax were switched for a card of Nolan Ryan in an Astros uniform after no agreement could be reached with Koufax. Similarly Ron Santo was substituted for #185 Robin Roberts.
2001 Donruss Classics hobby boxes were among the most prolific boxes in terms of game used insert cards of any baseball card set up until that point with at least 3 game used cards and 1 autographed card per 18 pack hobby box. Many of the high end inserts were issued as exchange cards that could be redeemed until September 10, 2003.
The 24-card set was inserted 1:18 hobby and 1:72 retail packs. Each card features a wood chip from a dugout bench from a major league stadium. It is believed that card BM-19 does not exist. The set was also partially paralleled with 9 autographed cards. The autographs were all packed out as exchange cards and a total of 25 sets were printed (according to Donruss).
These game used bat cards were inserted into 2001 Donruss Classics at a rate of 1:18 Hobby packs and 1:72 retail packs. None of the cards are serial numbered, however Donruss did release print runs for the cards that were short printed. Additionally some of the cards were available only as exchange cards. Overall the checklist of players is fairly extensive (39 of the 50 players are in the Hall of Fame).
The 25-card set was inserted 1:18 hobby and 1:72 retail packs. Each card features a wood chip from a dugout bench from a major league stadium. Overall, the set is very similar to the Benchmarks set, just with a slightly different checklist and smaller wood chip swatches. The Honus Wagner card SS-16 was inserted as an exchange card. 8 of the cards were also paralleled with an autographed version that were inserted as exchange cards only. 25 of each autographed card was produced according to Donruss.