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New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge | © AP/Rex/Shutterstock
New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge | © AP/Rex/Shutterstock

Get to Know New York Yankees' Slugger Aaron Judge

Picture of Michael LoRé
Sports Editor
Updated: 11 July 2017
Aaron Judge has taken Major League Baseball by storm. The slugging New York Yankees outfielder has dazzled and wowed watchers with his power at the plate and surprising agility in the outfield. Judge, 25, put on a clinic while winning the 2017 MLB Home Run Derby on Monday.

Culture Trip takes a look at Aaron James Judge with these 10 facts:

Most home runs by Yankees rookie

Judge surpassed the great Joe DiMaggio for most home runs by a Yankees rookie with his 30th home run of the 2017 season on July 7. DiMaggio hit 29 home runs in 138 games in 1936, while Judge needed 84 games this season to break the record. “It’s quite an honor,” Judge said. “It has been a fun first half (of the season) so far.”

He was adopted

Born April 26, 1992, in Linden, Calif., Judge was adopted the next day by teachers Wayne and Patty Judge. It wasn’t until he was 10 or 11 years old when Judge was told he was adopted. “I feel they kind of picked me,” Judge said. “I feel that God was the one that matched us together.” He says he calls his parents every day.

Three-sport star in high school

While Judge has gained notoriety as a professional baseball player, he was a three-sport star at Linden High School in California, playing baseball, basketball and football. Judge set school records for single-season touchdowns and receiving yards as a senior and holds Linden’s record for career receiving TDs.

Bubblegum superstition

Just before first pitch, Judge pops two pieces of Dubble Bubble sugar-free gum into his mouth and will continue to chew those two pieces until he makes an out. It was a tradition he started in college. If he goes 3-for-3, for example, he’ll have been chewing the same gum the entire game, which usually lasts about three hours. “Hopefully, by the end of the night I have a nasty, old, unflavored piece of gum in my mouth,” he said. “… No, I keep it in there. It is lucky.”

Why he wears No. 99

Judge wears No. 99, a number first given to him at spring training in 2016. He said he would prefer to wear No. 44 (but it was retired by the Yankees to honor Reggie Jackson) or No. 35 (currently worn by pitcher Michael Pineda since 2014). “It’s grown on me a little bit,” Judge said of No. 99. “… My favorite always has been 35.”

Attended Fresno State University

Judge was recruited by Stanford, Notre Dame and UCLA to play tight end but opted to continue his baseball career in college at Fresno State University, where both his parents attended. He was even selected in the 31st round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Oakland Athletics, but chose to play for the Bulldogs for three years. The Yankees selected him 32nd overall in the 2013 MLB Draft.

The Judge’s Chambers

Yankee Stadium is known for the Bleacher Creatures — a group of diehard fans who occupy the right-field bleachers in Section 203. The stadium is also now known for The Judge’s Chambers — an 18-seat section spanning three rows in right field that looks like a faux courtroom. Fans, who are chosen at random to sit there, are equipped with wigs, foam gavels and judicial robes. All rise!

Hit home run in first MLB at-bat

Judge needed little time announcing himself to the big leagues, hitting a home run in his first at-bat of his MLB debut against the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 13, 2016. He homered in his first at-bat the next game, becoming the second MLB player to hit a home run in the first at-bat of his first two big-league games.

Size

At 6-foot-7, 282 pounds, Judge is one of seven MLB hitters since 2000 to measure at least 6-7. His shoe size is 17. Ironically enough, Judge had an 88 percent success rate stealing bases at Fresno State University.

First rookie to win MLB Home Run Derby

Along with Giancarlo Stanton, Judge was a pre-contest favorite, but after Stanton was eliminated in the first round and Judge rallied for 23 home runs to eliminate Miami’s Justin Bour, Judge became the man to beat. The rookie rose to the occasion, defeating the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger in the second round before cruising past the Twins’ Miguel Sano in the finale.