As a long time Yankee fan, I have seen all the great stars. Mickey Mantle was my hero as a young child, he possessed a rare mixture of ability and humility which was unbelievably appealing. I was a little young for Roger Maris’ 61 homer year but enjoyed his all around skills. Elston Howard, the Yanks first African American player was a joy to watch, he could hit, field and had the perfect temperament for the pioneer that he was.
After the late sixties and early seventies went by with very weak Yankee teams, the team awakened in the late 70’s with Guidry, Nettles, the great Thurman Munson and the “straw that stirred the drink”, Reggie Jackson. All of a sudden it was hip to be a Yankee fan as the great teams of those years captured the city, taking it back from the Mets who had those big years in 69 and 73. The late seventies were all about the Yanks, but alas, they fell back into a long dreadful slump, until reawakened by the great young stars, Jeter, Bernie and Pettitte in the mid nineties and back to the mountaintop they strode. Unfortunately, since 2001 they have only won one World Series in fifteen years.
This brings me to the subject of this piece. Aaron Judge, Chandler bat ready at the plate, his Rawlings glove a sure thing in right field, his Under Armour cleats propelling a huge man with speed and grace and all of a sudden our hopes for Yankee dominance are renewed. He won this year’s Home Run Derby taking easy, comfortable swings, he wows the fans all over the country with his batting practice performances and already has hit over thirty homers, well on his way to hitting fifty. No matter how badly you need to use the bathroom, you can’t leave your seat the inning he bats because you can’t chance missing another Judge highlight. Greater than his talent is his humility and dead on ability to always say the right thing at the right time.
Last night against the Mariners, he hit one of the most impressive homers I have ever seen, nearly out of spacious Safeco field. It was hit so high that the announcers speculated that had the dome been closed, the ball might have hit the roof, certainly something I’ve never seen happen. Does he dance and prance and ceremoniously heave his bat, no he calmly drops it and modestly runs around the bases as did my hero, The Mick. He is also setting a wonderful example for his teammates. Clint Frazier, the newest Yankee hotshot, a guy who is obviously full of piss and vinegar, was interviewed after his walk off homerun and a la Judge modestly accepted his accolades and credited the whole team for the win.
Judge isn’t the only great player on this team, he is joined by Severino, Betances, Chapman and a number of others, but he is already, in his quiet unassuming way, becoming the leader. Bottom line for all you Yankee haters, we are on the precipice of another Yankee dynasty, with Aaron Judge leading the way. You all will be holding it in as he approaches the plate for many Octobers to come.