Fresh off setting the American League’s home run record with 62 last season, the 30-year-old blasted a 93-mph pitch from San Francisco Giants’ Logan Webb which flew 422 feet and over the Yankee Stadium center-field wall on Thursday in the first inning.
It was his first homer of the season and the league’s first overall, coming in a comfortable 5-0 victory for the Yankees over the Giants.
“You really don’t hear much when you hit it and you’re running the bases,” Judge said, per MLB.com. “But once I hit home [plate] and saw my family there, the roar of the crowd, my teammates – that’s when you soak it in a little bit.”
The game was a special one for Judge as it was his first since being name the Yankees’ captain, just the 16th in the organizations’ history.
And when he stepped up to the plate on Thursday, Judge was serenaded with “MVP” chants from the adoring crowd.
Judge repaid the faith from the Yankees spectators, sending them wild with his home run.
What made the moment even sweeter for Yankees fans was the fact that Judge’s home run came against the team that tried to prize him away from New York during the offseason and the team Judge supported as a child.
Judge had toured the Giants’ facilities and was even offered a contract to relocate to California before signing a nine-year, $360 million deal to remain with the Yankees.
“I didn’t want to go anywhere,” Judge said. “I was pretty vocal about that in the beginning. You’ve got to go through the free-agency process, but all in all, this is where I want to be. I’m happy I’m here.”
Judge’s display on Thursday already caught the eye of his manager.
“That’s about as tough a guy as you’re going to do it against, right on right, Webb is going to keep you in the ballpark,” New York manager Aaron Boone said of Judge’s home run, according to ESPN.
“To get a ball up like that, and to hit it out on a cold day, dead center, not only is it is a difficult chore in and of itself. But to get us a shot right there in the first and kind of let Gerrit [Cole] take it from there … to set the tone for us like that, especially after the offseason, signing back and [being named] captain, for him to get us rolling was very fitting.”