Category Archives: Historic Rookies

Historic Rookies: “Shoeless” Joe Jackson In 1911

Many baseball fans consider the Legendary outfielder “Shoeless” Joe Jackson to be one of the greatest players ever. He had a very good career but unfortunately is most remembered as a member of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. One of the most impressive parts of his career is one that is often overlooked, the beginning.

The Legendary "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. (Getty Images)

The Legendary “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. (Getty Images)

Joe Jackson began his major league career in 1908 with the Philadelphia Athletics. He would end his time with the Athletics after the 1909 season. During his two seasons with the club he only played in ten games. With 40 total at bats he only reach base 7 times. He would start the 1910 season with the minor league New Orleans Pelicans but signed on to the Major League Cleveland Naps at the end of the season. He finished playing 20 games and had 75 at bats, 29 hits and a batting average of .387. It was clear following the 1910 season that Jackson had great potential.

Joe Jackson returned to the Naps in 1911 for his first full season in the Major Leagues. Jackson played a total of 147 games and led the Naps to 80-73 record (3rd best in the American League). Jackson had one of the greatest rookie seasons baseball has ever seen with a rookie batting average record of .408. His batting average in 1911 stands as the second best single season batting record to this day. Jackson notched 233 hits, 7 home runs and batted in 83 runs. “Shoeless” Joe showed everyone a preview of how great his career would become. He was traded from the Naps to the Chicago White Sox during the 1915 season.

Joe Jackson was banned from baseball following the 1919 Black Sox scandal that tarnished the name of baseball. When his career was finished he had a career bating average of .356, 1,772 hits, 54 home runs and 785 RBI’s. He would be in the Hall Of Fame today if not for the controversy he found himself in following the 1919 World Series. Over one hundred years after “Shoeless” Joe amazed the baseball world he legend still lives on and will be remembered forever.

Historic Rookies: Oscar Robertson In 1960-61

With the 1st overall pick in the 1960 the NBA’s Cincinnati Royals selected Guard Oscar Robertson.  Robertson stared in college at the University Of Cincinnati.  During his college days Roberston became a 3-time scoring leader and a 3-time first team All-American.  When the 1960 season began he was kicking off what would become a Hall Of Fame career.

NBA Hall Of Famer Oscar Robertson. (Getty Images

NBA Hall Of Famer Oscar Robertson. (Getty Images

On October 19, 1960 Oscar Robertson made his NBA debut in Cincinnati against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers.  The Lakers squad who also had a rookie who would go on to be considered one of the greats, Jerry West.  Robertson’s team was victorious at home on opening night and defeated the Lakers by a score of 140-123.  Robertson scored 21 points, 10 assists and had 12 rebounds in his debut as a professional.

When his rookie season was finished in March of 1961 Oscar Robertson had led his team to a fourth place finish in the NBA’s Western Division.  Robertson was the leading scorer for the Royals with 2,165 points.  He finished with a scoring average of 30.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 9.7 assists.  Robertson also made his first All-Star appearance in 1961 where he was named the All-Star MVP.  On top of all of his accomplishments during the 1960-61 seasons was being named the Rookie Of The Year.

Eleven season after his debut Oscar Robertson would win his first and only NBA Championship with the Milwaukee Bucks during the 1970-71season.  Robertson played with the Royals from 1960-1970 and finished his career with the Bucks from 1970-1974.  He was elected into the Hall Of Fame in 1980.

Historic Rookies: Michael Jordan In 1984-85

During the 1984 NBA Draft a player would be selected by a team that needed a super star to lead them into the future. The NBA was also about to gain a future legend that is still talked three decades later. This player was none other than the University of North Carolina guard Michael Jordan. Jordan was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the 3rd overall pick that year. His rookie season was a peak into what the future of basketball and American sports was about to become.

Michael Jordan during his rookie season. (Getty Images)

Michael Jordan during his rookie season. (Getty Images)

Michael Jordan made his NBA debut on October 26, 1984. His Chicago Bulls were hosting the Washington Bullets. Much was expected from this rookie from North Carolina. Jordan had a solid game putting up 16 points, 7 assists, and went 6 for 7 at the free throw line. The Bulls beat the Bullets by a score of 109-93. As the season went on Jordan popularity would rise just like he would glide to the basket for one of his highlight reel dunks.

The Sports Illustrated cover that would add to Michael Jordan's superstar status. (Sports Illustrated)

The Sports Illustrated cover that would add to Michael Jordan’s superstar status. (Sports Illustrated)

Before the end of 1984 Michael Jordan graced the cover of the iconic Sports Illustrated Magazine with the quote “A Star Is Born”. In early 1985 before the NBA All-Star Game the fans voted Jordan into the mid season classic featuring the leagues best players. Jordan faced some jealousy from his fellow players for the success he had achieved just a few months into his career. The most notable was Detroit Pistons star Isiah Thomas who has been the previous years All Star Game MVP. It has been said over the years that Thomas was trying to get the players on the Eastern Division Team to keep the ball out of Jordan’s hands and make him look like less of a star in the game. Jordan was was able to contribute in the game but hardly was the star of the game. Jordan scored only 7 points in his All Star debut.

The Chicago Bulls ended the regular season with a record of 38-44 and received a playoff birth. The Bulls lost their first round playoff series to the Milwaukee Bucks 3-1.

Michael Jordan played all 82 games for the Bulls in his debut season and put up outstanding numbers for a rookie. Jordan scored 2,313 points, 481 assists and had a free throw percentage of .845. He was also named the NBA Rookie of the year. Jordan would not win his first NBA Title until the 1990-91 season. He retired from the game for the third and final time following the 2002-2003 NBA Season. Jordan scored 32,292 points, won 6 NBA Titles and 6 NBA Finals MVP Awards during his career among many of his other accomplishments. He is considered by many to be the most popular American athelete since Babe Ruth and the greatest basketball player ever.

Historic Rookies: Gale Sayers In 1965

With the 4th overall pick in the 1965 NFL Draft the Chicago Bears selected running back Gale Sayers from the University of Kansas. Sayers had been a two time All American and was highly touted coming out of college. The Bears were in need of a solid running back following the 1964 season in which the teams leading rusher was Jon Arnett who finished the season with 400 yards on the ground. Ronnie Bull was the second rusher in terms of yards with 320. Sayers would come in and rush for more yard than both backs combined.

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Gale Sayers was a very influential running back that changed how the game was played from the back field. Sayers was an explosive rusher with the ability to stop, move and go at practically any given moment. Sayers would also become one of the best kick returners the game had seen up to that point.

Gale Sayers had a phenomenal debut season in 1965. On the ground Sayers was practically unstoppable with 867 yards, 14 touchdowns. Sayers also gained 507 yards receiving and scored 6 touchdowns. Lastly Sayers returned 16 kicks for a total of 898 yards and 2 touchdowns on kickoffs and punt returns combined. Despite the incredible season Sayers had he could only help the Bears so much. The Bears finished that season with a record of 9-5 and placed 3rd in the NFL Western Conference.

Gale Sayers was named the NFL Rookie of the at the end of the 1965 season. That season he set the record for the most touchdowns scored by a rookie with 22, a record that still stands today, almost five decades later. Sayers would only play seven total seasons before retiring after the 1971 season. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in 1977.