Aaron Judge calls Toronto Blue Jays pitcher 'class act' for returning historic home run ball
New York Yankees designated hitter Aaron Judge (99) celebrates his 61st home run of the season, a two-run shot, against the Toronto Blue Jays during seventh inning American League MLB baseball action in Toronto on Wednesday, September 28, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Published Thursday, September 29, 2022 2:15PM EDT
New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge called one of the Toronto Blue Jays pitchers "a class act" for his instrumental role in returning Judge's historic home run ball to the Yankees on Wednesday night's game.
During the third game of a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre Wednesday, Judge tied the MLB American League (AL) record for most home runs in a single season.
Pitched to by reliever Tim Mayza, Judge hit his 61st home run of the season into the Blue Jays bullpen during the seventh inning of Wednesday’s game. With Aaron Hicks on first base, Judge hit the record-tying homer on a 3-2 count to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead.
Before falling into the bullpen, the lucrative ball grazed the glove of a Toronto Blue Jays fan sitting in the first row, a Toronto restaurateur named Frankie Lasagna.
Lasagna had brought the glove for exactly that reason – he’d hoped he’d have the chance to take home a piece of baseball history, or at least leverage it.
“I would have held on to it for as long as I could (to) negotiate,” he told the Canadian Press. “Maybe get Judge to try to come to the restaurant.”
But ultimately, Lasagna left empty-handed, as he couldn’t quite reach the ball, allowing it to fall into the Jays bullpen.
“The disbelief comes over you and just the shock and the amazement,” he said. “I was like, 'Oh my God, I almost had it.’”
From there, Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann caught the ball after it bounced off a wall, a spokesperson for the team confirmed. He and closer Jordan Romano made sure it got back to the Yankees, they said.
“Romano was one of several people involved in our bullpen. He made sure our group hung onto it until Zack Britton of the Yankees came to get it,” the spokesperson said.
In an interview after the game, Judge called Romano a "class act" for handing the ball back to Britton.
"He's one of the best in the game. It definitely means a lot. I gotta try and find him and thank him," he added.
In a video shared to MLB.com, Judge can be seen taking photos with the historic ball alongside his mother, who watched all three games in Toronto in anticipation of the big moment. He says the ball has now been "locked up" by the Yankees equipment manager.
Overall, Judge called the moment “an incredible honour” in an interview following the game and said he felt relieved.
With files from The Canadian Press.