Special Report

Youngest Athletes to Dominate Their Sport

Source: Courtesy of Upper Deck

1. Bobby Orr
> Age: 19
> Season: 1967-1968
> Team: Boston Bruins
> Achievement(s): Norris Trophy, All-Star

In his rookie season of 1966-1967, Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Orr immediately established himself as one of the best players in the NHL, earning his first of nine straight All-Star selections. The next season, Orr — still a teenager — won the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the NHL and finished fourth in MVP voting. He would go on to win the Norris Trophy seven more times in a row, racking up three Hart Trophies as NHL MVP, and winning two Stanley Cups.

Source: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

2. Bryce Harper
> Age: 22
> Season: 2012
> Team: Washington Nationals
> Achievement(s): MVP, All-Star

By the time he turned 22, Bryce Harper was a seasoned pro, having played three MLB seasons. Harper’s fourth season was his best by far — he led the NL in runs scored and home runs, with 42. Harper also led all of baseball with a .460 on-base percentage. He was awarded the NL MVP for that season, which is especially impressive given that many players are still in the minor leagues at 22.

Source: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

3. Dan Marino
> Age: 23
> Season: 1983
> Team: Miami Dolphins
> Achievement(s): MVP

In 1983, Dan Marino set the NFL ablaze at age 23. After a solid rookie season, the Dolphins QB smashed several NFL records the next year, setting the single-season passing yardage record at 5,084 yards, as well as the passing touchdown record with 48 TDs. Both records stood for at least 20 years and doubled his previous season’s totals.

Source: Mike Powell / Getty Images

4. Dwight Gooden
> Age: 20
> Season: 1985
> Team: New York Mets
> Achievement(s): Cy Young, All-Star, ERA Title

Dwight Gooden dazzled Mets fans as a 19-year-old in 1984, leading the majors with 276 strikeouts and a 2.60 ERA, good for Rookie of the Year. The next year, at 20, Gooden played even better. He posted a sparkling 1.53 ERA and a 24-4 record. Gooden was overpowering, leading the major in strikeouts again, with 268. He also led the NL in innings pitched, throwing 16 complete games.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

5. Eric Dickerson
> Age: 23
> Season: 1983
> Team: Los Angeles Rams
> Achievement(s): All-Pro

In 1983, running back Eric Dickerson smashed the rookie rushing record with the Los Angeles Rams — and no player has come close since. The product from Southern Methodist University rushed for 1,808 yards that season, demolishing the previous record by more than 100 yards. No other player has ever gotten to 1,700 in their debut season. Dickerson continued to improve, posting the single season rushing record in 1984, with 2,105 yards, that stands to this day.

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