The ascension of Aaron Judge from rural hometown in the San Joaquin Valley to Fresno State baseball star to the current “it” hero of Major League Baseball is complete – he’s on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
An early passage in the profile of the New York Yankees rookie outfielder in the May 15 edition notes how big he is – literally.
There is nowhere for a 6’ 7”, 282-pound man to hide. He is used to the feeling of eyes on him.
Rather than what might have been with a bad start – a tale of a hot prospect not ready for prime time – Judge has written a tale of record-setting, early-season mashing. All done in the meat grinder of the media-saturated Big Apple.
Not bad for a kid from Linden, a town best name for its cherry orchards just east of Stockton.
Three straight games with a home run each in early April, a rookie best-tying 10 that month, then 13 in his first 26 games to set the mark for all-time young sluggers.
Entering Friday, Judge is hitting .308 with 13 homers and 28 RBIs. His triple-slash line rounds out with a .408 on-base and .738 slugging percentage.
Oh, and he can catch and throw the ball, too.
“Every time I go up there to hit, I feel like that’s going to be my moment,” he says to SI. “Say I get out, OK, I move on and I’m going to try to do something on defense. If nothing happens there, I come in here and cheer somebody on to go do their best. … I might go 0 for 4, but my impact might be helping out a teammate who’s down in the dumps.”
Other takeaways from the Sports Illustrated piece:
On the importance of interacting with his ever-growing fan base – “I don’t want to leave the impression that I didn’t have the five seconds to say hello.”
Why he’s still living in a hotel, rather than renting an apartment – “I don’t want to put all my cards that I’m going to be in New York and then I go to Triple-A. Maybe next year, if everything goes well.”
The advantages of staying near Times Square – “If I want to get frozen yogurt at 12 o’clock at night, I can do it.”