The Judge of New York has spoken.
Beloved Yankee Aaron Judge opened up on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon about re-signing with the Yankees and it turns out Anthony Rizzo’s dog played a role.
Fallon revealed Judge’s dog, Penny, and Rizzo’s dog, Kevin, were the best of buds, and it would be hard to separate the two.
Rizzo, who had also re-signed with the Yankees this off-season, would text and call Judge every day, even sending pictures of Kevin and Penny together, and was “working hard” to get him to re-sign.
“It always comes down to your pet, right?” Fallon jokingly asked.
“He went for my heart,” Judge said about Rizzo’s tactics.
The late-night host then pulled up a picture of the two weenier dogs frolicking together in the outfield at Yankee stadium.
Judge, 30, who signed a nine-year, $360 million contract last month on Dec. 7, 2022, after months of speculation if he would re-sign with the Bronx Bombers, called his brief free-agency a “fun process.”
“Every athlete wants to get to that position, where they can kind of choose, you know, where they get to play. It just so happened I got drafted by the best team on the planet,” the superstar slugger told Fallon.
The American League home run leader was asked by Fallon how the courting process with other teams went during his free agency.
Despite meeting with “a lot of great teams,” Judge said he knew he would return to the Bronx.
“After every meeting, I’d sit down with my wife, and we kinda look at each other and are like, ‘we’re Yankees.’”
Once Judge re-signed with the Yankees, the organization announced that he would also be the 16th captain in the franchise’s lengthy history.
Judge, who said he was shocked about being named captain, revealed he was on the phone with Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, finishing up the deal, when he was told at the end of the phone call he’d be starting the 2023 season as captain.
Fallon asked if the newly appointed Yankees captain had any contact with the Yankees’ previous captain, Bronx Bombers legend Derek Jeter.
Judge said he talked to Jeter during the free-agency process and the 5-time World Series champion said he’d take him out to lunch to discuss some of what he experienced during his free agency.
Before the two icons could meet, Judge had signed the multi-million dollar contract, and the conversation between him and Jeter changed its tone.
“‘Now you’re going to take me out to breakfast, lunch and dinner,’” Judge said Jeter told him.
Judge finished the 2022 season with 62 home runs, breaking the American League record that Yankee Roger Maris held since 1961. He was also named the AL MVP and was selected for his fourth All-star game appearance.