Anyone with a passing interest in baseball likely knows Aaron Judge is the New York Yankees outfielder who has had an incredible rookie season in 2017.
He is Linden, California’s pride and joy.
Aaron played his college ball at Fresno State University and his high school ball at Linden High. In high school, he played football and basketball in addition to baseball.
He set school records for football and was recruited by such schools as UCLA, Notre Dame and Stanford for football.
But baseball was his favorite sport. So he headed just a couple hours south from Linden down the road to play for Fresno State.
The Yankees drafted him in the 2013 draft and he spent the next three years in the minors. He hit a home run in his first Major League Baseball at bat and had his first grand slam just a few weeks later.
In his hometown in Linden, there are few signs that this baseball superstar grew up, played baseball, or even has made it to the major leagues.
On a visit in the late summer, one could find signs protesting a plan to locate a Dollar General Store in the community, a banner at Linden High generating interest in the start of football season, and a poster promoting an upcoming church dinner.
Recently, small signs noting Linden as the home of Aaron Judge have been put up at the city limits.
While there may be few outward signs of this hometown star, many who live and work in Linden have not forgotten Aaron. On the streets downtown, a merchant told me there’s a lot of interest in Judge and he’s often asked by visitors about the Yankee star’s connection to Linden.
At the local post office, there’s a special mural commemorating the history of this farming community. There’s nothing on the mural yet about the Yankee outfielder, but there’s hope that someday Aaron’s likeness will be on display prominently in Linden.
Eric Weber is the athletic director at Linden High. While Eric was not the athletic director when Aaron went to high school, he is proud of all the success this sports star has achieved in such a short period of time.
“We’re very happy about his accomplishments,” Eric said. “He is a humble person, respectful of his roots, and has an excellent work ethic.”
Those accomplishments include hitting thirty home-runs by the all-star break in 2017. That achievement beats a record set by Joe DiMaggio.
Aaron has been a tremendous addition to the Yankees, and he’s brought a lot of positive attention to Linden.
That media includes the national sports magazines, television networks, and sports radio. All are following Aaron Judge’s remarkable year.
And the community of Linden, as well as the entire Central Valley, is sharing in some of that spotlight.
Steve Newvine lives in Merced.
His new book about California will be published in December.