New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge is having a breakthrough rookie season, belting prodigious home runs and exciting fans across the country as his #99 soars to the top of the MLB best-selling jersey list and he becomes the early leader in the American League MVP and Rookie of the Year races
However, more than four decades ago a guy named Judge was a shining baseball star. No, not Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who served as baseball’s first commissioner from 1920 to 1944 and is famous for handling the Black Sox scandal.
The other ballplaying Judge, Joe Judge, was a stellar first baseman who played nearly his entire 20-year career with the Washington Senators before retiring in 1934. This Judge compiled a .298 lifetime batting average and hit better than .290 for 11 straight seasons beginning in 1920.
Although Judge was not a home run hitter (he had just 71) he finished his career with 433 doubles, 159 triples, 2,352 hits, 1,034 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .420.
Joe Judge was known as one of the best fielding first baseman of his era, the Keith Hernandez of his day. Just 5’ 8 1/2” tall, Judge led AL first baseman in fielding six times and finished second in five other seasons. He retired with a .933 fielding percentage, a record that stood for 30 years. The lefty still ranks among the all time first base leaders in games (2,084), assists (1,301), putouts (19,264) and double plays (1,500).
The Brooklyn native had one of his best years in 1924, hitting .324 and helping the Senators win their only World Series. Judge batted .385 in the seven-game Series victory over the New York Giants.
Despite several injuries he batted .314 in 1925 as the Senators won their second straight pennant but fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates in another seven-game World Series.
Judge played the final two years of his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Red Sox, and later coached baseball at Georgetown University until 1958. He died at age 68 in 1963 after suffering a fatal heart attack while shoveling snow at his home in Washington, DC.
That is the question. It’s never been done, either at the new Yankee Stadium or the old ballpark — The House that Ruth Built — right across the street.
Seems like a super human feat. Mission impossible. Perhaps, but after Yankees’ phenom Aaron Judge cleared the left-center field bleachers with a 495-foot home run, it seems like a legitimate question.
Judge’s latest moonshot blast certainly opened some eyes. Consider that his home run would have landed in the corridor in front the Yankees retired numbers, under the Bank of America sign, if not deflected by a fan. Now look to the left of that spot, perhaps 25-30 feet, near the flagpoles. Notice the alley. Under ideal circumstances, with the wind blowing out, who’s to say Judge couldn’t clear that back wall. Not impossible.
There have been some monster shots in the new Stadium, but none as monstrous as the one Judge hit. Alex Rodriguez hit several bombs deep into the bleachers, and Philly’s Raul Ibanez and Cleveland’s Russell Branyan hit titanic shots.
But judging by the results, Aaron Judge has the best chance to hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium
Original Yankee Stadium Blasts
Nearly 16 years ago, July 22, 2001, Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams hit a ball that left the old Stadium, over the old Yankee bullpen in right field and onto the elevated tracks of the 4 line.But that was in batting practice.
I was at the ballpark with my family that day, a hot summer Sunday afternoon. We were sitting on the third base side, box seats. My son Dan, a teen-ager at the time, swears he saw the ball go out
“I saw it,” he said. “It went out in that little gap, over the wall and right onto the railroad tracks. “People noticed it, they were clapping. You didn’t believe me.”
Well, it was hard to believe.
“I didn’t see it,” Williams told the New York Post. “But I noticed that it never came back, so that should have been some indication it was out. Batting practice is a great relief and release of tension for me. I’ve had a lot of tension this year, so it’s kind of like hitting a punching bag. I always try to hit the ball hard, but that’s as hard as I’ve ever hit one. That’s a long way.”
It’s a feat that no Yankee slugger had ever accomplished before — not Babe Ruth, not Mickey Mantle, not Reggie Jackson.
Twice, Mantle came within several feet of hitting one out of Yankee Stadium, off Pete Ramos of the Washington Senators on Memorial Day, 1956, right, and against Bill Fischer of the Kansas City A’s on May 22, 1963. Both times the ball was still rising when it struck the façade in right field. Mantle later said the 1963 HR was the hardest ball he ever hit.
Josh Gibson and Frank Howard, among others, were reputed to have gone out of the Stadium, though neither has ever been proven.
Gibson, the great Negro League catcher, is said to have hit several moonshots in the his day, including a ball that traveled 580 feet in the 1930s.
Babe Ruth may have hit some balls out of the original Yankee Stadium before the upper deck in right field was built, but none have ever been documented. The upper deck in right was extended in 1937.
But Bernie Williams did it for real….even if it was BP. He even hit a home run in the game, a solo shot in the first inning, to help lift the Yankees to a 7-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Bernie finished his career with 287 home runs, 22 more in the playoffs. And one that didn’t count but went out of Yankee Stadium
Bernie goes Boom!