Home News Hal Steinbrenner’s call, Yankees captaincy pitch left Aaron Judge ‘speechless’

Hal Steinbrenner’s call, Yankees captaincy pitch left Aaron Judge ‘speechless’

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Nearly six months later, Aaron Judge still recalls the details of his call with Hal Steinbrenner — the “wild” one that sealed his return to the Yankees and made him the 16th captain in Yankees history — vividly.

Judge was staying at his parents’ house in California overnight while he and his wife, Samantha, prepared to fly to Hawaii.

It was around 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. when Judge and Steinbrenner conversed.

His free-agent journey, and all the pursuit that came with hitting 62 home runs in the final year of a deal, had unfolded with various teams, but when Judge hopped on the call with Steinbrenner, he told the Yankees owner that “I don’t want to go anywhere. I want to stay here. What are we gonna do?”

“And he’s like, ‘What’s it gonna take?’” Judge recalled during a recent episode of Bleacher Report’s “On Base with Mookie Betts.”

I threw out some numbers. He’s like, ‘Done deal. That’s it? That’s it?’

“I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘Alright, deal’s done, and oh, by the way, Thurman Munson was my favorite player growing up as a kid and he was a Yankees captain, and I want to make you the next Yankee captain.’”


Aaron Judge told Mookie Betts that Hal Steinbrenner’s captaincy pitch left him speechless.
Screengrab via YouTube/@TalkinYanks

The result, as Judge recounted in his press conference following a nine-year, $360 million deal in December, was everything he was searching for, and all the reasons why he never wanted to leave the Bronx in the first place.

“It’s something that you never think about,” Judge told Betts. “I’m just trying to go out there, just like you, every single day and be a good teammate, be a good competitor, uplift my teammates.

“So when you get that kind of title, man, there’s more responsibility, but it’s still just about you going out there and just taking care of your business.”

When Steinbrenner told Judge that he wanted him to become the 16th captain in the club’s history, Judge didn’t say anything at first.

Samantha, listening to the call on speakerphone, eventually told Judge that he needed to say something.

Judge, the 6-foot-7 slugger, was speechless, and Steinbrenner’s captain proposal gave him “chills.”


Aaron Judge poses with Hal Steinbrenner at a press conference in December 2022.
Aaron Judge poses with Hal Steinbrenner at a press conference in December 2022.
Charles Wenzelberg

Securing a deal with Judge helped the Yankees keep the core of their roster intact heading into the 2023 season, and Judge has followed his historic 2022 campaign with 18 homers, a .298 average and 39 RBIs through his first 47 games while also missing time due to an appearance on the injured list for a right hip strain.

Judge, who The Post’s Joel Sherman reported was also pursued by the Padres and Giants, said he always wanted to remain in New York but would kick himself “down the road if I just didn’t go through the process,” he told Betts. 

And because of that, Judge enjoyed meeting the coaches and front office members of different organizations, he added.

But a call and an offer from the only front office he has ever worked with — and the added perk of earning the captaincy, too — sealed everything for Judge.


Aaron Judge has already hit another 18 home runs through his first 47 games this season.
Aaron Judge has already hit another 18 home runs through his first 47 games this season.
Robert Sabo for the NY Post

He even has a parking spot closer to Yankee Stadium for game days, too.

“I didn’t take it personal,” Judge told Betts, about the Yankees letting Judge test free agency. “It was just part of the business. I gotta go check out, see what’s out there, but man, in the back of my mind, it was always New York.”



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