If you asked any baseball fan who the previous face of the game was, the major consensus would be Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter. All of that changed when Jeter retired following the 2014 season, and since then it seemed fans were desperate to assign a new face to America’s pastime.
The case of finding a new face has become a daunting task. Not because of the lack of talent, but because there are so many options to chose from. You could make the case for Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Kris Bryant or Clayton Kershaw. Maybe in a few years, we’ll label Aaron Judge as the next face of the game.
At least, that’s what Commissioner Rob Manfred believes.
Manfred spoke with the media during the All-Star festivities, and said the following regarding the Yankees phenom:
He’s been absolutely phenomenal. There’s no other word to describe it,” said Manfred, who added that Judge is “the kind of player that can become the face of the game.”
Before we get too excited, we’re talking about a rising star roughly three months into his brilliant career. And it could be a few years before we can call Judge the face of the game. However, Judge has been doing pretty well for himself over the last few months. According to his agent, Judge is more in demand than some of the game’s youngest stars, especially in the memorabilia industry. According to an article on ESPN, 15 autographed Topps Bowman 2013 Chrome cards racked up at least $5,000 on the auction website, the highest bid being $14,655.
The jersey Judge wore when he hit his first career grand slam sold for $45,578, which is among the top five highest prices for a baseball jersey in the last year. Judge has also been offered over 100 endorsements, but according to his manager, Judge declined most of them. The only endorsement deals Judge has is Under Armor for his cleats and Rawlings for his glove.
If Judge could be honest, he doesn’t care about the money. He cares about playing baseball and helping the Yankees.
Major League Baseball on the other hand does care about the money. And if there was anything the All-Star break proved, it’s that everyone wants to see Judge. Monday’s Home Run Derby was not only the most exciting derby in recent history, but it brought in huge ratings. ESPN announced the it brought in 8.689 Million viewers, which was a 55% increase from last year’s event.
It’s no secret Judge is going to bring baseball and the Yankees revenue, especially since he’s breaking records and garnering interest with his mammoth home runs. However, it could be a while before we all dub Judge the ‘Face of MLB.’
Still, all eyes will be on him as he finishes what could be an amazing MVP season.