Sunday, December 04, 2022

Judge HR Ball Given Young Yankees Fan Meets His Hero

TORONTO ( Associated Press) – The young Yankees fan who became a viral sensation this week shed more tears of joy on Wednesday when he met his hero, New York slugger Aaron Judge.

It came hours after 9-year-old Derek Rodriguez was caught on camera when Lanzilotta snatched the judge’s sixth-inning home run ball and handed it to Derek.

Rodriguez, his family and Lanzilotta were invited to the field and into the Yankees dugout ahead of Wednesday’s series finale against the Blue Jays.

When the judge paused for a quick conversation, Derek burst into tears again, signed the home run ball and handed over a pair of his batting gloves.

“It’s a moment that is now being watched around the world,” Judge said of the emotional exchange. “It just speaks volumes to the Blue Jays fans they have here. It’s a nice little connection they’ve got.”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Lanzilotta’s gesture touched him.

“To be honest, seeing this last night really warmed my heart,” Boone said.

Yankees second baseman Gleber Torres also spoke to Derek in Spanish. Derek was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and his family moved to Canada about five years ago.

Derek, who plays shortstop and right field, is named after Yankees Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter. The young man said that he took his prized ball to school on Wednesday.

“My friends and my teachers were really happy and congratulated me,” he said. “My teacher even gave a presentation where she showed what happened, and got people to touch the ball. It was just amazing.”

Yankees spokesman Jason Zillo said the Rodriguez family and Lanzilotta have been invited to bring a group of nine people to New York later this season to watch a Yankees game from The Judge Chambers seats in right field.

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