I admit I don’t root for the New York Yankees when they play games on the road. However, I root for them when they play in Yankee Stadium.
I usually root for the home team, whatever team it is, as I like to see happy faces in the stands. When the home team is losing, especially by a lopsided score, the fans look like they’re sitting shiva. I root for Aaron Judge, though, whether he’s wearing a home uniform or a road uniform as he’s a real mensch.
Judge was raised in the small town of Linden, California, about 75 miles east of San Francisco. The Judges, a white couple who adopted Aaron the day after he was born, worked as school teachers. Aaron’s biological father was black and his biological mother was white. It was a closed adoption and Aaron never had any contact with them.
Aaron also had an adopted older brother of Korean descent and much smaller than his 6-foot-7, 282 pounds. Aaron was always a big kid and knew he was darker and didn’t look like his parents. When he started asking questions as a youngster, his mother patiently answered all of his questions.
“I was told I was adopted and all of my questions were answered and I was fine with it,” the Yankees slugger recalled. “Some kids grow in their mom’s stomach; I grew in my mom’s heart,” Judge told Newsday. “She always showed me love and compassion, ever since I was a little baby. I never needed to wonder about anything or think differently,” he added to the New York Post. “My parents are amazing, they’ve taught me so many lessons. I honestly can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me, I’m blessed.”
Judge signed a nine year contract for $340 million, an average of close to $40 million a year, to remain with the Yanks. The fan who caught the ball that Judge hit for his 62nd home run of the 2022 season on October 4, while watching the game between the Yankees and Texas Rangers in suburban Dallas, sold it through an auction house for $1.5 million.
Other players hit more home runs in a season than Judge, but their accomplishments ultimately revealed that their numbers were tainted as they used performance enhancing drugs (PED) to make them stronger. Sammy Sosa hit 66 homers in 1998, 64 three seasons later and 63 in 1999.
Mark McGwire slugged 70 in 1998, and 65 the following year, while Barry Bonds reached 73 homers in the 200l season. But media and baseball officials feel their numbers were reached by using drugs and their cheating shouldn’t be rewarded and should also keep them from being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
McGwire’s 70th home run ball in 1998 fetched $3.05 million as it was sold before it became common knowledge that McGwire bulked up and his muscles were enhanced by drugs.
Let’s compare Judge’s 2022 great season to Babe Ruth’s 1927 season when the Babe hit 60 home runs, a record that stood until Roger Maris hit 61 in 1961, when the season was lengthened from 154 games to 162 games.
Judge had 570 at-bats last season with 177 hits for a .311 batting average. Ruth batted 594 times in 1927 with 192 hits for a ,356 batting average. Besides batting 45 points higher than Judge, Ruth struck out 86 times less than Judge (89 to 175). Ruth put the ball in play more often and hit a home run more often than Judge.
Pitchers issued 137 bases on balls (walks) to Ruth in 1927 while Judge walked 111 times last season. If walks and hits were combined to come up with an on-base percentage, Ruth’s was .486. Amazing, Ruth was on base for almost half of his at bats. Judge’s on base percentage was .425. Ruth also led in runs batted in. The Babe had 164 RBI in 30 less at bats than Judge’s 131.
Maris? He batted in front of Mickey Mantle in the Yankees’ lineup in 1961 and benefitted from getting good pitches to hit as pitchers did not want to issue a walk to Maris to have a man on base with Mantle batting. However, Maris only had a .269 batting average in 1961.