Judge-ment Night: We All Rose ... but Alas, No Home Run

What’s it like to be in attendance at Yankee Stadium as Yankees slugger Aaron Judge pursues Roger Maris’ home run record? Jon Friedman was there and he tells us.

| 22 Sep 2022 | 06:09

You have to feel a little sorry for Jose Trevino, the New York Yankees’ catcher and ninth-place batter in the Bronx Bombers’ lineup.

Trevino has the thankless task of batting directly ahead of leadoff hitter Aaron Judge after the lineup completes its first at-bats. While Trevino, a hard-working player, is digging in at home plate and professionally sizing up the opposing pitcher’s weak points, the Yankees’ home crowd waits impatiently for him to get on with it. The home fans simply wants Trevino to get the heck out of there – as soon as possible.

Because everyone wants to watch Judge at bat and hopefully glimpse history since the Yankees’ season offers no more suspense. The Yankees will make the American League playoffs and try to win the franchise’s first World Series championship since 2009.

Judge’s Blasts

Heading into Wednesday night’s game, Judge had blasted 60 home runs, typing Babe Ruth’s for the second-most home runs in American League history. Next up: equaling, and then passing, Roger Maris, another proud Yankee who hit 61 homers in 1961.

(Barry Bonds holds the Major League record by hitting 73 home runs in a single season. But his mark will forever be tainted because of the speculation that he used performance-enhancing substances.)

That was surely the case at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night. Judge had, on paper, a terrific ball game. He hit two doubles and scored two runs during the Yankees’ gruesome, 14-2 laugher over the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates.

(Exactly how hapless? Well, the Pirates played four games at Citi Field and then two more at Yankee Stadium this week – and lost all six games. Look in the dictionary under the word “hapless” and you just might see a photo of this minor-league squad that insists on playing in the major leagues.)

Coos and Squeals

Even though Judge failed to hit one of his trademark tape-measure home runs on Wednesday night, it was a blast being at the game. The moment that Judge strode to home plate for his turn at bat, the big-city, haughty Yankee Stadium crowd melted in admiration. You could hear coos and squeals, and everyone stood and cheered to boot. You could see thousands of people holding their cellphone cameras, poised to record baseball history.

The game reached comic levels. In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Yankees held a formidable 6-2 lead. Judge was due to bat seventh in the inning, meaning that it seemed quite unlikely that he would get another turn at the plate. Many people predictably left Yankee Stadium in great disappointment. I decided to hang out, though. Given the Pirates’ pitchers’ ineptitude and the Yankees’ penchant for scoring runs in clusters, there was hope that the Yankee hitters could launch a rally and let us fans watch Judge get one more at-bat.

And they did! One after another, the Yankee batters kept getting on base. Judge did come to the plate. The fans whistled and stamped their feet in anticipation. Oh yes, the cellphone cameras came out once more, too. But the Pirate pitcher threw Judge pitches far from the strike zone and Judge, the ultimate team player, took a base on balls and walked on to first base.

You can bet that fans at Yankee Stadium will be rising and cooing and squealing when Judge next comes to home plate against the lowly Boston Red Sox.