The New York Yankees named superstar outfielder Aaron Judge as the 16th captain in franchise history, Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner announced on Wednesday.
“It goes without saying what an honor that is,” Judge said at a press conference. “Look back at the list of, you know, Thurman Munson, Lou Gehrig, Ron Guidry, Willie Randolph, Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly.
“That’s a pretty good list right there. Not only great baseball players, but great ambassadors of the game and great ambassadors of the New York Yankees. This is an incredible honor that I don’t take lightly.
“I’m going to continue to try to be the same leader that I’ve been in the past six years, continue to lead by example and I know there’s a couple more responsibilities with this, but I’m here to embrace every single obstacle and continue to lead this team and this city to not one, but multiple championships down the road.”
Judge, 30, is the first captain for the Yankees since Baseball Hall of Fame shortstop Jeter retired in 2014.
Judge signed a nine-year deal worth a reported $360 million, following a historic season in which he broke Roger Maris’ American League (AL) single-season home run record in October when he hit his 62nd home run.
A four time All-Star and reigning AL MVP, Judge was drafted by the Yankees in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Fresno State.
In his career with the Yankees, Judge has a .284 batting average, 220 home runs and 497 runs batted in (RBI) in 729 games over a span of seven seasons (2016-22).
When asked how the discussion to become the Yankees captain came about, Judge said he was speaking with Steinbrenner at 3 a.m PT while in California.
“He [Hal Steinbrenner] shot me a message earlier about kind of what’s the hold up? You know, what’s it going to take to get this to the finish line,” Judge said.
“So we hopped on a quick call and he was busy and he said that it doesn’t matter the time, you give me a call and we’ll work some things out.
“And then at the very end, he spoke about how Thurman Munson was his favorite player and just how important the captain and that honor is to not only him and his family, but the team and this organization and kind of presented with me.
“I was kind of lost for words,” Judge added. “I don’t think I said anything for, it felt like five minutes. It was probably only a couple of seconds and I was just really taken back because that is such an incredible honor.
“Like I said, you look back on this list of individuals, you have this title, It’s such an honor. I’m truly blessed to be a part of this organization for nine more years.”