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Scooped up from their little ponds and dumped in the deep, wide ocean, rookies often don't know where to swim first. While many of these young fishies are focused on proving their chops, they become vulnerable to other predators lurking out there, the most sinister of which is the sports photographer.
Rookies—especially those who didn't play ball for a widely covered college team—aren't exactly camera savvy. Takes them a while to get accustomed to all those eyes in the sky and on the wall and in the stands and in the locker rooms...
Now, let's relish all those hysterical shots of our once naive goofy, pimply, awkward, clueless heroes of the court, the diamond, the rink, the track and the field.
Click on and let the silliness begin.
Rivers cleverly diverts any rookie mockery that might be directed his way and has a little fun at Anthony Davis' expense.
Unibrow accessory by Ralph Lauren.
All work and no play makes Phil a dull boy.
Mwah mwah mwah!
It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye, Madison.
Might wanna step back 'fore I spit this wad'a tabacky juice on them there purty shoes you got on.
The Lord, He doth shine upon Tebow's blessed, bare pate.
Wearing the little girly backpack—a true rite of passage in MLB rookie-hood.
Barnes and Henson enjoyed hanging around after practice during their rookie year.
You saw me standing alooooone...
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my ooooown...
Not sure what happened here exactly. Is the tongue part of some sort of Jedi mind trick? Is this an attempt to be cool, to be like Mike?
My take is that he just flubbed a smile.
Future rookies, do yourselves a favor and study these instructions before your first player portrait.
OK, so Hawk never really had a rookie year. The guy was pulling 900s before he was out of diapers.
But this picture is just too good to remain lost and obscure in cyberspace.
Cooperation between national space programs at its grandest.
Pictured here: a Kiwi propels a Frenchman into orbit.
Someday I'll get bumped up to third-string quarterback; I just know it.
Stretching is good. Stretching helps. But when it makes you look like you have a nasty bulge of groin fat... not so flattering.
The future ex-winner of seven Tour De France titles.
If all those scary cameras and mics are too much for Travis, he can just pop his head back inside his shell.
The pouty, plain Jane you see in the first picture caught on to the whole camera culture lightning fast.
Here she is just a year later:
Danica Patrick at ESPY Awards Red Carpet 2006
Lost member of ZZ Top?
Disgruntled NKOTB reject.
Those spangled bras a little more than you can handle, young Tiger?
Guess so. Note his strategic positioning of the trophy for this photo op.
Could this knobbly kneed awkward little lass really grow up to be our Venus?
Now here's a rookie-hazing accessory that actually has some thematic resonance. Rookies are like Luke Skywalker—talented young prodigies with great potential. But they need more training and experience before they do battle against the cunning veterans.
Please note the absence of any inverted Yoda speech in this slide.
Thank me later, you will.
Mullets and denim shorts were once all the rage.
But were they?
Four years down the line, a new decade begun, and mullets are still among us.
In Jágr's defense, it took folks who'd lived behind the Iron Curtain a few years to catch up fashion-wise.
The Durantula sizes up his prey at the 2007 ESPY Awards.
Actually, there's nothing funny about this one. Apologies to those of you who are prone to night terrors.
This look could have easily gone wrong for the Black Mamba.
And it did.
But once he lost the Miami Vice shades and the cheesy cookie duster, he cooled up well enough.