BFFs? Judge, Rizzo forming bond as Yankees

January 26th, 2023

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.

recalls watching curiously during their first few weeks as teammates, observing the veteran first baseman’s detailed preparation routine and how his personality would fit into the Yankees’ clubhouse.

“This was a guy that just got traded away from a great franchise to the New York Yankees, and we’re on a playoff run,” Judge said. “It was like, ‘How’s this guy going to handle himself?’ He stepped right into that role of being a leader from Day 1. That was one thing that I picked up a lot from Anthony.”

Judge delved deep into his thoughts on leadership as part of a webinar series for his ALL RISE Foundation this week, chatting for an hour with Rizzo.

In an appearance on NBC’s "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon," Judge suggested that Rizzo may have been the Yankees’ secret weapon in accelerating his contract negotiations with the Bombers, pushing Judge to remain in New York with daily phone calls and text messages that included snapshots of their adorable dachshunds roaming the Yankee Stadium outfield together.

The friendship between Judge and Rizzo developed quickly in 2021, when Rizzo was acquired midseason from the Cubs, and they became further bonded during Judge’s record-setting summer of ’22. That placed Rizzo in a unique position to help counsel Judge during his free-agency period.

“Every team wanted him, and rightfully so,” Rizzo said. “I just remember talking him through the process. There was a point in the zero hour where it was starting to get a little dicey. I want to play with Aaron. Sam and Emily, our wives, get along great. Our dogs get along great. It’s a great relationship. You give friendly advice: ‘Hey, what’s going to make you happy?’”

As Judge prepares to take on the challenges of serving as the 16th captain in franchise history, he said some aspects of Rizzo’s leadership will play a part. Judge added that when a new face enters the room, like Rizzo did in 2021, he feels a responsibility to make first contact.

“Whether it’s a rookie that just got called up or somebody we traded for, I want to go over there, introduce myself and kind of try to be a familiar face,” Judge said. “You say, ‘Hey, I’m Aaron. Great to meet you. If you’ve got any questions, you need anything, come to me. We’re all on the same team. We’re all working together.’”