Garret Sparks joins list of memorable sports debuts

When Toronto Maple Leafs rookie goaltender Garret Sparks shut out the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 on Monday night in his first NHL appearance, he joined the list of great debut performances in sports.

Rookie goalie's stellar first game recalls LeBron, Rooney, Newton

Maple Leafs' Garret Sparks blanks Oilers in NHL debut

7 years ago
Duration 0:27
Toronto rookie makes 24 saves in 3-0 victory.

When Toronto Maple Leafs rookie goaltender Garret Sparks shut out the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 on Monday night in his first NHL appearance, he joined the list of great debut performances in sports.

Here are some others:

Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

Called the most-hyped draft pick in history by Sports Illustrated among others, Strasburg was the No. 1 selection in the 2009 Major League Baseball draft by the Washington Nationals. Less than a year later he made his MLB debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates in June 2010. Strasburg struck out 14 batters while allowing four hits and two runs over seven innings in the Nationals' 5-2 win. He was the first pitcher to strike out more than 11 batters in his MLB debut without issuing a walk.

LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Before he became King James, LeBron went from playing for his Akron, Ohio high school to being the Cavaliers' No. 1 choice in the 2003 draft. In his NBA debut against the Sacramento Kings, James set a record for a first-time player by scoring 25 points in a losing cause. He went on to win Rookie of the Year honours.

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

Another first overall draft pick, Newton was selected out of Auburn University by the Panthers in the 2011 NFL draft. On Sept. 11, 2011, he debuted for the Panthers against the Arizona Cardinals and completed 24 of 47 passes for 442 yards, breaking Peyton Manning's record for passing yards in a first game by 120 yards. Newton threw for two touchdowns and scored another himself in a losing cause.

Wayne Rooney, Manchester United

As a 16-year-old Rooney scored an English Premier League goal for Everton, but his first game for Manchester United at Old Trafford was a classic. It was September 2004 and Rooney was 18 when he scored a hat trick for Man U in a 6-2 triumph over Istanbul's Fenerbache in a Champions League match. Rooney became a Man U mainstay, leading them to three consecutive EPL titles from 2007-09.

Lydia Ko, LPGA

Born in South Korea, Ko grew up in New Zealand and began to play golf at age five. In January 2012 she became the youngest player to win a professional golf tournament, taking the Women's NSW Open in Australia at 14. Later that year at 15, Ko won the first of three Canadian Women's Open titles at Vancouver Golf Club. She won again the following year at Edmonton's Royal Mayfair and turned pro shortly after that in October 2013. In February of 2015, Ko became the youngest player, male or female, to top the professional golf rankings at 17.

Billy Rohr, Boston Red Sox

A 21-year-old left-hander, Rohr made his MLB debut for Boston in April 1967 at Yankee Stadium. He carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning when Carl Yastrzemski kept the bid alive with a diving catch off Tom Tresh. 

The Yankees' Elston Howard later broke up the bid with a two-out single. Rohr beat the Yankees a week later and never won another game for the Red Sox. He won one more game for the Cleveland Indians the following year, and spent most of the remainder of his career in the minors, retiring in 1972 at age 26.


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