TORONTO — Aaron Judge sent a chunk of history 394 feet to left field within the seventh inning on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre, long enough to clear the wall for his 61st home run, but just short enough to evade the grasp of rabid fans.
Minutes later, Zack Britton was on the job to retrieve it.
The ball landed within the shelter otherwise referred to as the Blue Jays’ bullpen, where bullpen coach Matt Buschmann first got hands on it before it ended up with closer Jordan Romano.
A member of the Yankees’ security team and a clubhouse staffer were soon staked out behind a row of chairs within the bullpen, however the ball remained with Romano until Britton made his way over from the Yankees’ bullpen in right field.
“By the point I got over there, Romano saw me coming and he was similar to, ‘Hey, here you go,’ ” Britton said after the 8-3 win. “He was good. It was great, he made it easy. … He handed it to me and I said, ‘I appreciate it.’ If there was anything they wanted, I’ll see what I can do with Judge.”
Aaron Judge’s 61st home run ball made it’s approach to Zach Britton and the Yankees bullpen.Sportsnet
With the simple exchange — likely far less difficult than if a fan had ended up with the ball — Britton suddenly was holding the baseball that tied Roger Maris’ American League and franchise record for single-season home runs, which had stood since 1961.
“It was cool. You’re holding history,” Britton said. “Among the bullpen guys, we were joking about our negotiations with Judge, what that was going to be like. But I feel it’s just a giant moment. The ball was only a small piece of it. He needed to go do it. I just think it’s nice for him to get that. Romano was great, so we appreciate that.”
Judge said he appreciated Romano delivering the ball to Britton, calling it a “class-act move.”
Britton was unsure why he was the designated Yankees reliever to go secure the baseball from the Blue Jays bullpen. He joked that he probably must have been warming up, since he entered the sport minutes later in the underside of the seventh inning. But after the Yankees’ security detail had gone over some 10 minutes earlier and had not yet come back, he desired to go see for himself.
“For Judge simply to have the opportunity to have that without the — you recognize the negotiations if that went into the stands and who knows?” Britton said. “I don’t think it matters as much as perhaps people think. The indisputable fact that he’s there and he’s going to proceed to probably hit some more home runs, it’s just nice that he got that out of the way in which here. We will return to Latest York and you recognize the fans are going to be super excited to look at him proceed to hit.”