By Jerin Allen
Aaron Judge continues to make history as he was named the 16th captain of the New York Yankees.
He’s also just the third Black Yankees captain in the team’s storied history.
The other two were fan favorite World Series champions Willie Randolph and Hall of Fame Derek Jeter.
Randolph, a second baseman, shared the captaincy for two years with pitcher Ron Guidry in the mid-80s. During his tenure in pinstripes, Randolph was a five-time All Star and helped the team win the 1977 World Series.
Jeter was the second Black captain and the longest tenured overall from 2003–2014. The shortstop was a 14-time All Star and won five championships with the Yankees. Both Randolph and Jeter attended Judge’s introductory media conference after he signed the biggest free-agent contract in MLB history – a nine-year, $360 million deal.
Jeter expects Judge to continue to be himself in his new role.
“I don’t really look at it as a new role,” Jeter told the media when asked about Judge’s new “C.” “Going off my own experience, when The Boss called me, he said, ‘Don’t change anything.’ It’s not like you flip a switch and have to be someone else because you’ve been given this title. I would assume he’s handled himself as a captain up until this point.”
Randolph endorsed Judge’s elevation to captain and expressed that the Yankees made the obvious decision.
“Perfect choice, there’s no other choice to be made,” Randolph said. “I feel like watching this kid over the years he’s become that captain.
“You can see the way he handles himself on and off the field and the way he goes about his business. He’s going to be an outstanding captain and the players already know that.”
Judge is the first captain for the Yankees since 2014, succeeding Jeter.
Judge was among the most sought after free agents this offseason after winning AL MVP and smashing 62 home runs, setting the new American League record.
The Yankees were determined to re-sign their star and make him captain.
Judge weighed in on being officially named the face of the Yankees.
“To get a chance to continue my legacy here in pinstripes, in the best city in the world, the best baseball city, in front of the best fans, this is an incredible honor,” Judge said following the announcement. “This is an incredible honor that I don’t take lightly.”
The trio of Black captains stood together at Judge’s press conference for a historic photograph that acknowledged the greatness that Black players have contributed to the Yankees’ past and present.
All three men had stellar seasons for the Yankees, but what they all share is the ability to conduct themselves as leaders of men on and off the field.
They have been All Stars who led by example and were chosen to be the ambassadors of the Yankees’ organization.
They were also Black men.
No one will say it, but that part is a big deal. In a sport where Black participation decreased at alarming rates, Judge was named the face of the most well-known franchise in MLB history.
Even with dwindling participation in the sport, the Black community has yet again produced another legend in the making in baseball.