Playing Catch with Aaron Judge
It’s the question I posed 162 different times to 162 different people over the last year and a half.
To have it asked of me, by one of the best players in Major League Baseball, will forever be one of the most surreal experiences of my entire life (and honestly, worth adding a bonus “catch number 163” to this project).
Aaron Judge, the 2017 American League Rookie of the Year, the man whose number 99 jersey is the one you’ll see more than any other in the stands at Yankee Stadium these days, headed over to me and asked,
“Dan, do you want to have a catch?”
What struck me about getting to throw with Aaron (in addition to the fact that it was happening in centerfield at Yankee Stadium) was how similar it was to every other catch I’ve played and conversation I’ve had during all of this.
I asked Judge his favorite stadium to play in NOT named Yankee Stadium. The California native told me both L.A.-area ballparks are right near the top; because of the picture-perfect weather, the history of each locale, and the incredible amount of Yankee fans that show up at both places when the Bronx Bombers are in town.
He laughed at the curtain call former teammate Didi Gregorius received after hitting a go-ahead home run in the top of the 10th inning for the visiting Yankees against the Angels IN ANAHEIM in 2018 (curtain calls are almost exclusively reserved for players on the home team).
I inquired about which pitcher he’s faced that’s always had his number. As Judge pondered his answer, I suggested, “Ya know, a pitcher you’ve gone 0-for-11 against” to which he responded, “Oh there are plenty of those!” He finally settled on former knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, saying, “It’s hard enough to hit when the pitcher and catcher *know* where a pitch is going and you don’t. Imagine when *you* don’t know AND *they* don’t know where it’s going!”
I dreamed that something like this would have been a part of this crazy idea I came up with, but was still pretty blown away that it actually happened. Thanks to the New York Yankees for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and to my man Aaron Judge for taking the time to be catch number 163 out of @162gamesofcatch!