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Yankees Make Aaron Judge Team Captain

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With Willie Randolph and Derek Jeter in attendance, the Yankees named Aaron Judge because the sixteenth team captain in franchise history in a ceremony at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.

The choice, made by owner Hal Steinbrenner, was announced at a news conference that doubled because the formalizing of Judge’s nine-year, $360 million contract that was agreed to earlier this month.

Randolph and Jeter, each of whom previously held the title of team captain, were joined by General Manager Brian Cashman and Manager Aaron Boone, in addition to Judge’s wife, Samantha, and his agent, Page Odle.

Dozens of media members packed right into a crowded press room for the event wherein Judge and others discussed his contract, which is the biggest deal agreed to by a player this off-season.

The captaincy was a cherry on top for Judge, who broke Roger Maris’s American League single-season record by hitting 62 home runs in 2022 and won the A.L.’s Most Worthwhile Player Award.

While largely a ceremonial position — Judge was already considered the leader amongst Yankees players — it has carried significance over time, each due to the franchise’s status as Major League Baseball’s most successful franchise and due to the previous players who held the job.

The primary captain was Clark Griffith, a pitcher who was a player-manager for the team starting in 1903, when it was still often known as the Highlanders. Several other players, including Babe Ruth, took turns within the role in subsequent years, with Lou Gehrig famously being captain from 1935 until his premature retirement for health reasons in 1939.

The Yankees didn’t have a captain from Gehrig’s retirement until catcher Thurman Munson was given the job in 1976. Munson died in a plane crash in 1979 and within the years because the job has been held at various times by third baseman Graig Nettles, pitcher Ron Guidry (who shared the job with Randolph, a second baseman), first baseman Don Mattingly and, most recently, Jeter, who had the job from 2003 to 2014.

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