He was born and raised in Linden, Calif., a town of about 1,800 people 85 miles east of the bay area, and he now makes his living in the Bronx some 2,900 miles away.
But Oakland is essentially the birthplace of Aaron Judge, the baseball player and New York Yankee.
Back in 2010, the Oakland Athletics selected Judge in the 31st round. Having grown up just an hour-and-a-half away from O.co Colosseum, Judge had the opportunity to sign with his “hometown” team out of high school. However, he felt he wasn’t ready physically or mentally, and his parents, both school teachers, stressed the importance of having an education to fall back on.
Judge decided to go to Fresno State instead and enter the draft down the road.
On June 6, 2013, the Yankees, who used the compensation pick acquired from letting Nick Swisher walk after the 2012 season, drafted Judge in the first round (32nd overall). Just five days later, the baby-faced, west coast product took batting practice on the field at O.co Colosseum before a game between the A’s and Yankees.
Judge’s parents watched near the dugout as their son, who was still wearing his Fresno State batting gloves, stepped into the cage sporting Yankees gear for the very first time. He wasn’t officially signed yet, but said he planned on inking his first professional contract soon.
This was the moment Yankees fans first caught a glimpse of their newest pick — a guy they could dream on as being the next great homegrown Yankee.
“He can hit some homers,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that day, according to Bryan Hoch. “The ball really jumps off his bat. Strong kid. He can hit line drives out of the ballpark. You think that they’re good line drives in the gap, and they just keep going. He was pretty impressive today.”
Pretty accurate initial scouting report from the Yankees skipper, huh?
Now nearly four years to the day, Judge returns to Oakland as the leading AL MVP candidate, and the emerging face of the resurgent Yankees.
Oakland represents what could have been for Judge, who traded Athletic green, California gold and white for Fresno State cardinal red and blue. Oakland also represents the genesis — the beginning of his career with the Yankees which is now off to historic proportions.