Magic Johnson was Michigan born and raised. And yet he felt like Los Angeles the minute he put on a lakers uniform.
We are experiencing the same phenomena today. Aaron Judge feels like the New York Yankees. The Linden, Calif., born and bred ballplayer is a natural in pinstripes.
And just as Magic Johnson stole the NBA by leading the Lakers to a title and winning Finals MVP as a rookie in 1979-80, so, too, did Judge make an early impact with his entrance into the major leagues.
Judge made his MLB debut on Aug. 13, 2016. In his first at-bat, he launched a home run that measured a projected 446 feet to centerfield, which tied the team longball record in the Statcast era. The moon shot also landed on the netting protecting Monument Park at Yankee Stadium.
In the movie business, that’s called foreshadowing. Judge stuck to the script in 2017, his first full season. Starting in right field from Day 1, he posted .284/.422/.627 and led the junior circuit in runs (128) and walks (127). He also led the A.L. in RBI (114) and clubbed 52 home runs, which broke Mark McGwire’s rookie record (49). He was the clear choice for Rookie of Year, becoming the first Yankees player to do so since Derek Jeter in 1996.
“It’s what you dream about,” Judge said after winning.
His impressive play and larger-than-life stature (6-foot-7, 282 pounds) made him an instant hit that season.
“Look at Judge,” David Ortiz told the New York Post on June 2017. “Look at him. That’s scary, man. That’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. A guy that big that can hit like that, that’s special.”
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