NEW YORK -- When Aaron Judge goes back to his family's home in Linden, Calif., the Yankees rookie 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 25 years.
While Judge possesses a hulking build that appears to have been stripped from the pages of a comic book, his mother, Patty, represents the true strength behind the slugger. Judge said that his mom has influenced every decision that he has ever made, describing her 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."
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When Yankees manager Joe Girardi recently paid Judge a compliment of the highest pinstriped order, comparing his presence and personality to that of Derek Jeter, Judge said 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, where Judge took his first cues from Patty and Wayne Judge, recently retired schoolteachers who ensured that education was a priority in their son's young 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 laughs about now.
"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 said that he still speaks with his parents every day. On a recent afternoon -- hours before he was in the lineup for a game at Yankee Stadium -- Judge said that he had just hung up the phone with his mom, who had been doing some yard work.
On Mother's Day, Judge said that he plans to send his mother flowers and a card, then will call to tell her what he always does.
"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.