I was one of the crazy people who bought an Aaron Judge shirsey in August of last year. My prospect hugging has always been well-documented, and I believed deep in my heart that he was better than the player he showed in limited time last season.
When I attended the Yankees’ home opener this season I was one of a select few wearing a Judge shirsey in attendance. Admittedly, I kind of felt special, like I was in some exclusive club other people weren’t yet smart enough to join. (How about that foresight, huh?) Now you can’t shake a limb at Yankee Stadium without hitting at least four people wearing 99 on their back, and for good reason.
In the 4th inning of the home opener with Michael Pineda working on a no-hitter, Judge launched an offering from Alex Cobb 391 feet to left field. Like many swings since then, it was one where you knew the ball was gone. It was just Judge’s second home run of the season, and I couldn’t have known how great he’d continue to be, but getting to watch him put a perfect swing on a ball live was worth the price of admission.
What Judge has been able to do this season has been absolutely incredible. Surpassing the Yankees’ season-high mark in home runs for rookies before the All-Star break was incredible, and bringing home the Home Run Derby championship was one of the most exciting nights of the season.
Being able to watch Judge chase history is a real treat that we get to participate in as fans this season. Who knows when we’ll have another opportunity like this? As amazing as it is to watch Judge crush home runs from your couch, being there to see it in person is a whole different ballgame. The crack of the bat, the stir of the crowd, everything that you don’t get to experience from your living rooms comes alive in person.
Your odds of seeing a Judge dinger when you head to the Bronx are pretty good this year. It feels like he hits them in more games than he doesn’t. There really isn’t anything like high-fiving the 20 people in your immediate vicinity because your collective Large Adult Son just did another extraordinary thing. Strangers become friends because you share a common love of the Yankees’ baseball-bashing boy, and you can’t quite believe he can do all of this.
If you haven’t been to the Stadium this year, do yourself a favor and go. Grab a 99 shirsey (or jersey, if that’s more your speed) from your establishment of choice, jump on the train, and wait to admire the work of art that is Aaron Judge home runs. Hopefully he’ll be hitting them in Yankee Stadium for a long time to come, but this year is historic. Don’t miss out on it by staying at home on the couch. Once you see one in person, you’ll understand.