This story was excerpted from Bryan Hoch’s Yankees Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.
Aaron Judge has been selected as the Yankees’ nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, which annually recognizes a Major League player who best represents baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.
As part of the annual program, each Major League club nominates one player to be considered for the league-wide award in tribute to Clemente’s achievements and character.
“This is an incredible accomplishment, just getting nominated for an award like this,” Judge said. “As a player, Roberto Clemente had 3,000 hits, he hit home runs, he was a great defender and a complete player. He is someone I try to model my game after. Then, off the field, he had so much compassion and care for every individual. It didn’t matter who you were. You could be the youngest fan, an older fan, or even someone who wasn’t a fan of baseball, and he took time out of his day to make you feel special.”
Last July, Judge joined several of his teammates for a visit to the Clemente Museum in Pittsburgh. They had an opportunity to hold one of Clemente’s game-used bats, and Judge — who normally swings a 35-inch, 33-ounce model — was impressed by the heft of Clemente’s 36-inch, 38-ounce lumber. The museum offered Judge a replica, which he used the next day during batting practice at PNC Park.
“It’s pretty impressive he was able to swing something like this and produce the numbers he did,” Judge said then.
Judge founded the Aaron Judge ALL RISE Foundation in 2018, focused on inspiring young people to become responsible citizens in the Bronx, San Joaquin County (Calif.) and Fresno County (Calif.). The foundation also looks to honor those who have had a positive influence on children.
Through various programs and initiatives, ALL RISE has supported more than 2,000 young people in its communities of focus, encouraging them to reach unlimited possibilities.
Judge said that Clemente’s legacy has provided a model to strive for.
“The charity work he did, how he touched every single fan, especially the young kids — that’s who you want to be,” Judge said. “That’s a big leaguer, that’s a professional. So, getting a chance to be a nominee for this award and getting a chance to represent Roberto Clemente is one of the greatest honors.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that he considers Judge a deserving candidate for the Clemente Award.
“Aaron being nominated is obviously a huge deal, and something that I know will be very meaningful to Aaron,” Boone said. “Giving back and taking advantage of his platform and what this game has given him is very important to him. He’s demonstrated that throughout his career, starting with his ALL RISE Foundation very early in his career.
“Over the years, having come in contact with a number of guys that have won that award, often they will talk about that being the most meaningful thing that they’ve won in their careers.”
Sept. 15 marks the 22nd annual Roberto Clemente Day. Until Oct. 1, fans can vote for the Roberto Clemente Award here.