A version of this story was originally published by MLB.com in 2017.
On the occasions that Aaron Judge returns to his boyhood home in Linden, Calif., the Yankees star jokes that he should make time to double-check the closet in his parents' bedroom, surprised that a Superwoman cape hasn't surfaced at some point over the past 28 years.
While Judge possesses a hulking build that appears to have been stripped from the pages of a comic book, he says that his mother, Patty, represents the true strength behind the slugger. Judge said that she has influenced every decision that he has ever made, describing his mom as “an incredibly caring individual.”
"I know I wouldn't be a New York Yankee if it wasn't for my mom," Judge said. "The guidance she gave me as a kid growing up, knowing the difference from right and wrong, how to treat people and how to go the extra mile and put in extra work, all that kind of stuff. She's molded me into the person that I am today."
Early in 2017 -- a season that saw Judge belt 52 homers and score unanimous selection as the American League’s Rookie of the Year Award winner -- former Yankees manager Joe Girardi paid Judge a compliment of the highest pinstriped order, comparing his personality and presence to that of Derek Jeter. Judge replied that he was honored, but that he was simply trying to be "the best Aaron Judge I can be."
That mission started about 100 miles northeast of San Francisco in California’s Central Valley, where Judge took his first cues from Patty and Wayne Judge, recently retired schoolteachers who ensured that the pursuit of education would be a priority in their son’s life.
"It's helped me try to live to a higher standard," Judge said. "They wanted me to always make sure I put education first and make sure I prioritized everything. If I was going to make plans, stick to them. Make sure I'm on a tight schedule and make sure I don't miss anything."
Not that Judge was always so understanding, something that he laughed about years later.
"I wanted to go outside and play with my friends or play some video games, but they were tough on me," Judge said. "They'd say, 'Hey, you've got homework to do. You've got to finish your math homework and science homework. Then if you have time left over before dinner, you can go play.' Something like that. I didn't like it as a kid, but looking back on it, I really appreciate what they did for me."
Patty and Wayne adopted Judge the day after he was born in April 1992. He has an older brother, John, who has also become a teacher. Judge was in elementary school when he asked why he and his parents did not look alike.
"I think it was like, 'I don't look like you, Mom. I don't look like you, Dad. Like, what's going on here?'" Judge said. "They just kind of told me I was adopted. I was like, 'OK, that's fine with me.' You're still my mom, the only mom I know. You're still my dad, the only dad I know.
"Nothing really changed. I honestly can't even remember too much, because it wasn't that big of a deal. They just told me I was adopted, and I said, 'OK, can I go outside and play?'"
Judge has said that he still speaks daily with his parents, who have frequently joined the Yankees on road trips over the past three years. They joined him in Tampa, Fla., this spring, which should make his usual Mother’s Day message even easier to deliver.
"I'll just thank her again for everything she's done, and tell her again I know I wouldn't be in the position I am now if it wasn't for her love and guidance," Judge said.