By Alfredo Alvarez
Miami– Aaron Judge was born April 26, 1992, in Linden, California, a farming village in San Francisco with a population of 2000 people. Aaron was adopted the day after being born, by a couple of teachers, Patty and Wayne Judge, in San Joaquin County. Aaron has never had contact with his biological parents. His older brother John was also adopted by the couple four years before, and now teaches English in South Korea.
At age 10, little Aaron realized that he did not look like his parents and asked them what the reason was, and at that moment he knew the truth. But to the surprise of his own parents, Aaron did not ask for further explanations and continued his life as if nothing had happened. Judge’s relationship with his parents is really wonderful. He calls them every day, no matter how busy he may be. According to the slugger, his parents are the most important thing in his life, and he owes them all his success and being the person he is. His father always made time to play with him basketball or baseball and once he saw the enormous talent of his son, he helped him succeed, imparting discipline and dedication in his son.
His favorite team growing up was the San Francisco Giants, and his favorite player was short stop Rich Aurilia. However he started in baseball playing first base and pitcher. HE was already 6 feet tall by the time he started elementary school. His trainer in high school was Joe Piombo, and quickly Aaron was already qualified as one of the best players in Northern California as a junior and senior, winning the All-America recognition in 2010. As a pitcher he finished with a 9-3 record and a 0.88 ERA in his senior year for Linden High. That season, he led the Raiders to the Mother Lode League crown and through three rounds of the state Division IIII playoffs. He was a star in the three sports that he practiced in high school (Baseball, Football and Basketball), in fact he has the record for the most yards received and touchdowns scored for his high school and in basketball he finished with an average of more than 20 points per game and was the rebound leader. Aaron had a difficult decision when he had to choose between playing baseball or football in college and for the luck of the Yankees he seems to have made the right decision.
Several universities offered scholarships to play American football, in fact, he received more offers than for baseball but in the end the giant decided to play baseball for Fresno State in his native California.
He was named All-American and named All-Mountain West Conference team the 3 years he studied there. Thanks to his big time power, Fresno State went for two consecutive seasons to the College World Series (2011 and 2012) In 2010 Judge was elected in the 31st round by the Oakland Athletics but he declined the opportunity as he wanted to finish his studies, which was not surprising coming from a home where studies were always a priority.
The Yankees since then were already interested in Aaron. They had been watching his progress for three years. They were fascinated with their abilities. However, despite that, Judge was not the first draft choice for the Bombers, who took Eric Jagielo, a third baseman of Notre Dame, in their 26th pick. Fortunately, Aaron was still on the board when the 32 pick came up and the Yankees finally drafted the big guy, who received a bonus when signing of 1.8 million dollars.
After signing, he could not play in the 2013 season due to an injury, but he recovered and trained very hard making his professional debut at the Charleston RiverDogs of the Minor League Baseball in 2014.
In 2015 he was part of the Trenton Thunder where he connected 12 homers and brought 63 men to the plate. He was then promoted to the Scranton / Wilkes-Barre RailRiders of the AAA class. That same year he was chosen for the All Star Future Game.
In 2016, he was assigned the number 99 in the spring training and although at that time he liked other numbers like 44 (number retired in honor of Reggie Jackson) or 35 (which at that time was used by the pitcher Michael Pineda) Judge said that now, number 99 is part of him and that he would not change it for anything.
Aaron was sharing an evening dinner with his parents on August 12, 2016, when Al Pedrique (manager of the Yankees Triple-A that year), called him to inform him that they were waiting for him in the Bronx the next day. His parents drove from Rochester five hours south to Yankee Stadium for the expected Saturday game against Tampa Bay Rays where he will make his MLB debut.
In the first at-bat of his career, he hit a homerun and just before him the also rookie Tyler Austin, hit one too, becoming the first time in baseball history that two rookies had homered back to back.
In his second game, he hit another homerun, being the second player in Yankees history to hit 2 homers in his first 2 games, the previous one was Joe Lefebvre in 1980.
Although he did not have a totally unpleasant 2016 with 179 batting average, Judge worked during the offseason with hitting Coach Allan Cockrell, who modified some errors in Aaron’s swing and the rest is history.
His 2017 numbers were not only excellent for winning the Rookie of the Year award, but they put him in the conversation for the most valuable player of the American League. He led the league with 52 homers, 128 runs scored and finished second behind Nelson Cruz with 114 RBIs. Aaron was also among the 10 best AL batters in total bases with 340, 422 on-base percentage, 79 extra-base hits and 627 slugging average. He ranked second behind Jose Altuve in WAR (wins above replacement) a statistics that measures how important a player is to his team’s victories. Finally the award was given to Altuve but it was more than one who commented or wrote that Judge could have won it.
Judge is under contract with the Yankees until 2022 and his salary is 530,000 almost the minimum in the league. But everything seems to indicate that Judge is not going anywhere and that he will be a Yankee for a long time. To this day Judge can already claim that he has taken the longest shot in the history of Yankee Stadium with a 495-foot shot and also has a section in the right-field bleacher under the name of ” The Judge Chambers” where fans wear robes and wigs like the judges.
Currently, “The Judge”, with a height of 2.01 m (6 ft. 7 in) and a weight of 128 kg (282 lb.) is recognized as the position player with the largest body mass in the history of baseball. But something that has not been mentioned in all this article is the extraordinary person that this boy is outside of a field. Within the baseball world everyone is amazed with his humble personality, his way of speaking and his incredible character. Even many already compare it to the personality of the legendary Captain Derek Jeter.
And many will wonder what is the reason for this player to act in this way. The answer lies in his immense faith in God.
The first words that are in his twitter account are: Christian, Faith, Family and then Baseball. In his own words he thanks God for choosing his adoptive parents. The background image at the top of his Twitter account reads: 2 Corinthians 5: 7 “Because we walk by faith, not by sight” and he often mention additional Bible verses in his tweets. Undoubtedly one of those heroes that baseball gives us from time to time. A player that we can use as a reference and as an example when it comes to educating our children. He is proof that all is not lost and that there are role models to follow in sport. For now let’s just enjoy and PLEASE!! All Rise!! Here comes “The Judge!”
Sources of support: https://www.baseball-reference.com/ https://www.wikipedia.org/ http://www.jockbio.com/Bios/Judge/Judge_bio.html
Images are labeled for reused.
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