The hottest slugger in the Majors this year is 25-year-old rookie Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees, and he’s hitting up a storm. He’s five inches short of seven-feet tall and has amazing power. Judge is in the top-10 in most offensive categories and should easily clinch the American League Rookie of the Year honors. If he keeps up his incredible pace, he may even be in the MVP conversation.
Judge, who’s just a small-town boy, appears to be a fine role model for youngsters due to his down-to-earth and humble attitude. He’s proving to be an exceptional athlete and could end up enjoying a record-breaking career. In case you’re unfamiliar with baseball’s newest star, here are 10 things you might not have known about Aaron Judge.
10. Adopted A Day After Being Born
Aaron James Judge was born on April 26, 1992 in the small community of Linden, California, which has a population of approximately 2,000 people. The outfielder, who just turned 25-years-old and bats and throws right-handed, made his MLB debut with the New York Yankees in 2016. He’s also 6-feet-7-inches tall and weighs in at about 280 lbs. Aaron was adopted by Wayne and Patty Judge when he was just one-day old. Both of his adoptive parents were school teachers before retiring and they also adopted another boy named John, who is now Aaron’s older brother and the 30-year-old elder sibling is currently teaching English in South Korea. Aaron says he hasn’t had any contact with his biological parents as of yet. Judge is a Christian and told the press he believes God matched him and his adoptive parents together.
9. Excelled At Multiple Sports
Judge is turning out to be one heck of a baseball player, but he also excelled at a couple of other sports while growing up. He played first base and pitched for his Linden High School baseball team, as well as being a wide receiver for the school’s football squad and playing center for its basketball team. Judge was the leading scorer on the basketball team when it came to points per game and holds the school football record for touchdowns and receiving yards. Judge also led his school baseball team to the California Interscholastic Federation Division III playoffs. Several colleges including UCLA, Notre Dame and Stanford recruited him to play football for them, but the teenager decided to focus on baseball and has no regrets about his decision.
8. A Conscientious Student
As well as being an excellent athlete at high school, Judge was also a fine student. He had a grade point average of 3.2 when he graduated from Linden High and was on the student council for two years. Judge also liked to perform community service and used to pick up garbage from the school grounds and local area with several of his teammates from the basketball team. He said he grew up following certain rules laid down by his parents and knew he had to maintain a good grade point average if he wanted to enjoy activities such as video games and sports. Judge said he and his basketball teammates would get up early and pick up garbage following breakfast and felt it was a great bonding experience as well as being a lot of fun. Also, Judge was honored with the Brewster Whitecaps’ citizenship award in 2012 for being the team’s most positive member.
7. Drafted By Oakland
Judge was originally drafted back in 2010 when the Oakland Athletics chose him during the 31st round of that year’s Major League Baseball Draft. However, at 18-years-old he thought long and hard, but decided to go to college instead of pursuing pro ball and ended up enrolling at Fresno State University. He played three seasons of baseball in the Mountain West Conference with the Fresno State Bulldogs and was a freshman All-American. He also won the TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby in 2012 with 16 homers. Judge led the team in doubles, home runs, and RBIs during his junior year when he posted a .373 batting average and made the conference’s All-Star team in each of his three seasons. The Yankees then drafted Judge in 2013 in the first round with the 32nd pick overall and he received a $1.8 million signing bonus.
6. Drafted by Yankees With Compensation Pick
When the Yankees chose Judge with the 32nd selection in the 2013 MLB Draft, the pick was actually awarded to the team as compensation. New York received the extra selection after the Cleveland Indians signed free agent Nick Swisher from them. This left the club with three first-round picks in the draft. They used the 26th overall pick on infielder Eric Jagielo from Notre Dame and then took Judge at number 32. They also had the 33rd overall pick and took left-handed pitcher Ian Clarkin out of high school. Swisher had played with the Bronx Bombers from 2009 to 2012 and he averaged 26 home runs a season along with 87 RBIs and a .268 batting average. The Yankees offered him a one-year deal for $13.3 million for 2013, but he signed with Cleveland for $56 million over four years.
5. Wears Number 99
The world of sports has already seen one exceptional player wear number 99, as former NHL great Wayne Gretzky made it famous. Now Judge has the opportunity to make it a famous baseball digit. Judge currently wears number 99 in pinstripes, just because it was given to him by the Yankees in 2016. The high number indicates that the club probably didn’t think he’d make the team out of spring training. They were right, but Judge was called up a few months later. He’s now just the second payer in Yankees’ history to wear number 99 in regular-season play, with Brian Burney being the first to don it in 2009. Judge wore number 23 when playing high school baseball in Linden, California and wore number 29 while playing college ball at Fresno State.
4. Setting MLB And Team Records
Judge has already seen his name added to MLB and Yankees’ history books. He hit a home run in his first Major League at-bat in August of 2016 and teammate Tyler Austin also achieved the feat in the next at-bat during the same game. It was the first time ever that two teammates slammed back-to-back homers in their first appearances at the plate. Judge also became the first MLB player to earn an RBI and an extra-base hit in his first three games. He’s also just the seventh Yankee to record an RBI in five of his first seven MLB contests. In addition, Judge is only the second MLB player to hit a homer during the first at-bat in his first two games in the league and is the first Yankee to have extra-base hit in his first three outings. The way he’s swinging the bat, it looks like Judge will set a few more records before his career’s over.
3. He’s Superstitious
Many pro athletes are superstitious and we can add Aaron Judge’s name to the long list of them. For Judge, the superstition involves the long-time baseball tradition of chewing bubble gum. Judge recently explained his unique superstition during an interview with the YES Television Network. The slugger said that he chews a piece of gum at the start of each game and will keep on chewing it as long as he gets a hit during his first at-bat. However, if he doesn’t get a hit he’ll replace the old stick of gum with a fresh new one. If he gets a hit during his next at-bat he’ll keep chewing the gum, but if he goes hitless he’ll change the gum once again, and so on for the remainder of the game.
2. Incredible Power
It’s no secret that Judge possesses tremendous batting power and his 22 home runs as of June 16th, 2017 led the Majors. However, he was also seventh in batting with a .335 average, third in on-base percentage at .441, third in slugging at .692, second in on-base plus slugging (OBPS) at 1.132, and tied for first with 58 runs scored. He was also top-10 in total bases, extra-base hits, RBIs, and walks. But on the flip side, his 78 strikeouts and 10 double plays hit into were tied for eighth in the majors. Judge was also averaging a home run each 10.3 at-bats to rank third. He’s definitely developed his power over the years, since he hit just 18 homers during his three-year college career. He has great speed for such a big man, as he stole 36 bases at Fresno State for a success rate of 88 per cent. Judge slammed a home run on June 10th which exited the ball park at 121.1 miles per hour to become the hardest hit homer ever recorded by Statcast. He then hit the longest homer of the season the next day, at a whopping 495 feet.
1. The Judge’s Chambers Cheering Section
The big right fielder was honored by the Yankees with his own cheering section in May of 2017, which is creatively known as the Judge’s Chambers. He has given the fans a lot to cheer about, as he tied the rookie record of 10 home runs in April, which was held by Jose Abreu and Trevor Story. Judge was named the American League Rookie of the Month for both April and May and became the third Yankee to slam at least 12 homers in the club’s first 25 games. The only others to do it were Babe Ruth with 12 and Alex Rodriguez with 14. The Judge’s Chambers section is located in section 104 in the right-field at Yankee Stadium and consists of three rows of seats. Fans who sit there are decked out in wigs and black robes and have foam gavels as they cheer on their favorite player.