A Yankees titan earns spotlight




The Gazette, Colorado Springs



You didn’t have to be a Yankees fan to appreciate history being made last summer. As it became apparent Aaron Judge could break Roger Maris’ American League home run record, the baseball world focused on the outfielder’s quest. On Oct. 4, Judge hit a slider and made the record books. Bryan Hoch details this journey in “62: Aaron Judge, the New York Yankees, and the Pursuit of Greatness.” There’s deep reporting here and an appreciation for the sport’s history. Sometimes this is so detailed it defines insider baseball. What comes through is a portrait of a focused, honorable man. It’s not as if Yankees fans just noticed Judge last season. The powerful outfielder always puts the team first. In 2017, he slammed 52 home runs, earning the title of Rookie of the Year. This book is more than a recitation of games. It explains how the boy who grew up in Linden, Calif., as a San Francisco Giants fan became a Yankees titan set against the season that led to his becoming the team’s 16th captain. In his first at-bat for the team in 2016, Judge smashed a ball 446 feet. Once fans saw what he could do and how he did it so humbly, Judge was instantly a favorite. Hoch recounts stories about the human side of Judge, as opposed to the superhuman side he unleashes during games. The story of his ninth home run of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays encapsulated that. A ball landed on a Jays’ fan’s food tray. He gave it to a boy, asking him to pay forward the kindness someday. When Judge heard, he invited both to a game. Judge asked who his favorite player was. Derek Rodriguez, then 9, showed off his Judge shirt. Judge signed the ball and gave him a pair of his batting gloves. These anecdotes flesh out the chase, which otherwise could be a numbers rehash.