NEW YORK — During his meet-and-greet with the media on Wednesday, donning the pinstripes one more time in the calendar year of 2022, Aaron Judge admitted that he is a light sleeper, which is a good thing since the call that he probably dreamed of during his hectic time as a free agent came just after three in the morning. Soon after, what was offered to Judge from the organization on the other end of the line proved to be a knockout.
Judge and the New York Yankees made their long-term partnership official on Wednesday, as the Yankees announced Judge’s new nine-year, $360 million deal to stay with the Bronx Bombers, ending one of the most intriguing courtships with free agency in the history of Major League Baseball. Along wit the deal, the Yankees announced that Judge has been named the 16th captain of the Yankees, joining the likes of historic names who have played inside different iterations of Yankee Stadium such as Gehrig, Munson, Randolph, Mattingly and Jeter.
Speaking of those erstwhile captains, both Willie Randolph and Derek Jeter attended the press conference in helping the Yankees introduce their latest transaction…and their newest captain.
“That’s a pretty good list right there, not only of great players, but great ambassadors of the game,” Judge said during the press conference. “This is an incredible honor that I don’t take lightly. I’m gonna continue to try to be the same leader I’ve been the last six years and lead by example…I’m here to embrace every single obstacle and continue to lead this team to not one, but multiple championships down the road.”
While in California — the state of his birth, and home to two potential suitors, the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres — and getting ready to fly to Hawaii soon after arriving in the Golden State from Tampa, Judge received a call from Yankees Managing General Partner and Chairperson Hal Steinbrenner around 3 AM Pacific Time, with Steinbrenner eager to put the speculation of Judge’s impending decision of where to spend the next few years of the prime of his career to bed once and for all.
I’ve been here six years and I’ve gotten a chance to know Hal a little bit, but I want to get to really know him and get to know his family and get to know everybody in the organization and really make this a family,” Judge said about the process talking with the Yankees during free agency. “Because if I’m going to be here the rest of my career, what I want to have is a family feeling
“Hal, from the very beginning, wanted to do that, kind of reached that kind olive branch out there for us and said, ‘Hey, let’s build something here,'” Judge continued. “It was a great conversation, and then we had to go through all the logistics and other stuff. And I said just give him a call again at the end and kind of sealing it up right there.”
The cherry on top of Judge’s big day back in pinstripes was the presence of Jeter, the Yankees captain from 2003 to 2014 who arrived in town just in time to be a part of the Wednesday’s proceedings.
“I didn’t know,” Judge said about whether he had an idea that Jeter would be present today. “I spoke to him a couple times throughout the whole process about what he went through, how he felt about things, and his opinions about the organization…But it was definitely an honor seeing him here and a great surprise. We went up to the owner suite and saw him in there with everybody. That was a great surprise and was kind of like a passing of the torch kind of thing. That was something special because he means a lot not only in this organization but to myself, too, and for him to show up, coming from the warm weather to the cold weather was pretty special.