Judge: Negro Leagues Museum 'special'

August 16th, 2020

NEW YORK – A typical road trip usually prompts to research recent video of the pitchers who are likely to toe the mound that week. On one of his first visits to Kansas City, teammate invited the Yankees slugger to turn back the clock further.

As Major League Baseball recognized the centennial of the Negro Leagues on Sunday, Judge reflected upon a visit to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, where he had the opportunity to learn more about the exploits of legends like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Oscar Charleston.

“The big thing is going to the museum in Kansas City; that'd be the first thing I'd recommend to anybody who wants to learn about the Negro Leagues and what those guys went through,” Judge said. “The history of the game and the great players that we had, that's something that's pretty special.

“Every time we went to Kansas City, CC would always take a couple guys out there and just check it out. That was always a pretty special moment.”

As Judge spoke, he sported a red Jackie Robinson shirt from Sabathia’s “Roots of Fight” collection, recognizing the barrier-breaker’s 1945 season with the Kansas City Monarchs.

The Yankees wore a 100th anniversary Negro Leagues patch on Sunday, with the logo also featured on the base jewels and lineup cards. A tribute video to Negro Leagues great Buck O’Neil will be shown prior to first pitch.

Sabathia’s interest in the Negro Leagues reached new levels in 2001, when a pregame visit with O’Neil at Kauffman Stadium inspired the then-Indians hurler to visit the museum at the corner of 18th and Vine, as he recounted on Sunday in a “Voices of the Game” conversation produced by the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“I'm walking out to BP; it's my first year in the big leagues. I don't think anybody's going to know me,” Sabathia said. “He's standing behind the cage and says, ‘Big fella, come over here.’ He just started talking; he's like, ‘Hey, I've been watching you, you’ve got a great fastball.’

“I'm like, ‘Buck O’Neil knows who I am? He's been watching me?’ That let me know how much we need to take care of each other as a Black community, Black players and support each other. My love for the Negro Leagues just kind of grew from there.”

Judge overruled
After being diagnosed with a strained right calf on Friday, Judge said that he “begged” the Yankees not to place him on the 10-day injured list, believing that he could receive treatment and be ready to re-join the lineup by Monday.

That appeal was nixed by manager Aaron Boone, the team’s athletic trainers and the medical staff, who believed that Judge would have risked a more significant injury if he continued to play. Judge said that his legs felt “tight” after playing both ends of a doubleheader last weekend at Tropicana Field.

“I've been healthy and been feeling great,” Judge said.

"This is the best I've felt in a while, so that's why I'm pretty frustrated being put on the IL for something that's just a couple-of-days thing. Working with the Yankees' staff and talking to their doctors, it's more precautionary and probably best overall to miss one week than push through it and eventually miss three to four weeks.”

Judge said that he feels “100 percent” and expects to resume hitting on Monday. The earliest that Judge could be activated is Saturday against the Mets at Citi Field.

Next men up
When tied his career high with five RBIs on Saturday, homering and doubling twice in an 11-5 rout of the Red Sox, Tyler Wade was among those cheering the loudest on the Yankees’ bench.

Frazier and Wade have grown close over the past several years as they wait for opportunities to contribute at the big league level. Injuries to Judge and DJ LeMahieu (IL with left thumb sprain) may permit Frazier and Wade to occupy the same lineup for a period. Wade and Thairo Estrada figure to share duties at second base in LeMahieu’s absence.

“We're on the best team in baseball, and we have superstars and All-Stars at every single position. We realize that,” Wade said. “You have to make sure you work hard like you're going to play that night. It showed in Clint’s game. You never know when your number is going to be called, and he's doing his thing. Hopefully I’ll follow his lead and just stay prepared.”

Up next
Left-hander (2-1, 5.17 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season on Monday as the Yankees and Red Sox conclude their four-game series at 7:05 p.m. ET at Yankee Stadium. Montgomery is coming off a win against the Braves in his last outing. Left-hander Martín Pérez (2-2, 3.38 ERA) is scheduled to start for Boston.