The New York Yankees were playing the Blue Jays in Toronto when outfielder Aaron Judge hit a home run into the stands.
A Blue Jays fan caught the ball and noticed nine-year-old Derek Rodriguez who was wearing Judge’s jersey. In an incredible moment, the fan walked over to the boy and handed him the ball. The nine-year-old hugged the man and burst into tears.
Aaron Judge hits a home run.
Blue Jays fan catches it.
The fans turns to a young fan wearing an Aaron Judge jersey and gives him the home run ball.
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) May 4, 2022
But the story didn’t end there.
The next day before the game both Rodriguez and the fan who caught the ball Mike Lanzillotta were invited to meet the players including Aaron Judge.
Last night, 9-year-old Derek Rodriguez was gifted @TheJudge44’s home run ball by Jays fan Mike Lanzillotta.
Tonight, Derek got to meet his favorite player 💙 pic.twitter.com/18b24wKYkv
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) May 4, 2022
“It was a special moment,” Judge said. “A Blue Jays fan, to have that moment with a young Yankee fan, that’s a moment that’s been around the world now. It speaks volumes to the Blue Jays fans they have here, it’s a cool little connection they got.”
Judge after meeting the young fan pic.twitter.com/10BSLYhys0
— Erik Boland (@eboland11) May 4, 2022
The video of Derek being given the ball has gone viral and Judge said that it was a special moment.
You don’t see moments like that in professional sports much any more. Usually, fans of a visiting team are harassed by the home team fans.
Lanzillotta is a lifelong Blue Jays fan who had met Derek and his father in the stadium. Mike told Derek, “One way or another, we’re getting you a ball.”
It all came together in “epic fashion,” Lanzillotta said.