The 15 Greatest Rookie Years in Sports History

« Prev
1 of 16
Next »
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse the slideshow
The 15 Greatest Rookie Years in Sports History
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III have yet to meet in a regular-season game, but hopefully that will change soon.

When several notable rookies dominate the sports world like they did in 2012, it naturally leads to a discussion of the best draft classes ever. The debates tend to focus on a specific sport, but we rarely look at the impact that first-year players had across multiple leagues in a given year.

ESPN recently ran a SportsCenter segment that featured the professional debuts of Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods—among others—in 1996. 

Years like ’96 are rare, but what other years welcomed an inordinate amount of future All-Stars and Hall of Famers?

Going as far back as 1977—the first year following the NBA-ABA merger—I took into account the impact that the players had as rookies, the number of All-Star appearances made throughout their careers and how many players ended up in the Hall of Fame, or are likely to make it once eligible. 

The numbers in parenthesis denotes the number of All-Star/Pro Bowl appearances made by each player, with MVP and/or Cy Young awards listed second where applicable. Only players with multiple All-Star/Pro Bowl appearances are included as notables and in the total count.

Not all players that fit that criteria are mentioned by name, but their All-Star/Pro Bowl appearances are included in the total count.

Baseball players are listed by the year of their major-league debut, not necessarily their “rookie” year. 

With those criteria in mind, here are the 15 greatest rookie years in sports history.

Begin Slideshow »

Follow B/R on Facebook

Sports Lists

Subscribe Now

By signing up for our newsletter, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

Thanks for signing up.