Aaron Judge's Rich Aurilia idolization 'cool' to former Giants shortstop

·3 min read

Giants' secret weapon? Aurilia humbled Judge idolized him originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- As Aaron Judge chases Barry Bonds' single-season home run record, the Giants legend came out this week and said he hopes Judge not only breaks the mark, but follows that by coming to San Francisco. Those comments came a couple of days after the Giants added another former superstar, Buster Posey, to their ownership group.

There will be no shortage of former MVPs to send Judge's way if the Giants choose to seriously pursue him and he in turn takes them seriously, but could they have a secret weapon?

Judge grew up in Linden, about two hours away from Oracle Park, and has said in the past that Rich Aurilia was actually the one he was drawn to on the Giants team that went to the World Series when Judge was 10 years old. During a visit to Oakland five years ago, he told NJ.com that Aurilia's number drew him in.

"My dad's favorite number is 35, so as a kid I wore 35 and Rich Aurilia was the shortstop for my favorite team and he wore 35," Judge said. "I liked watching him."

Judge said he even copied Aurilia's right-handed stance when he was growing up.

"I was the tallest kid and I was crouched down like Aurilia," he told NJ.com. "It was funny."

On Friday's Giants Pregame Live, Aurilia said he learned of Judge's rooting preferences a couple of years ago. He has tried to set up a meeting during a Yankees visit to Oakland, but thus far it hasn't happened.

"I just think it's pretty funny that I was a guy that he watched growing up," Aurilia said. "Not Bonds or (Jeff) Kent. To me that's kind of cool, because a guy that's chasing a home run record has said, 'Oh yeah, my guy was Rich Aurilia. I emulated his batting stance.' "

Aurilia might not have been the biggest star on those Giants teams that Judge grew up rooting for, but few right-handed hitters have ever attacked Oracle Park like he did. Aurilia hit 37 homers in 2001, making the All-Star team and finishing 12th in MVP voting.

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Judge would shoot past that number if he were to choose San Francisco, but as Aurilia watched the Yankees star try and hit No. 61 on Friday night, he had a hard time picturing Judge turning in his pinstripes.

"I give Aaron Judge a lot of credit, because he did bet on himself this year," Aurilia said. "He had a contract offered to him and he said, 'Nope, I'm going to go out and bet on myself this year,' and he arguably is having the best walk year of any free agent ever to play the game.

"Yeah, would it be nice to have him here? Of course it would, but as every home run keeps going on here, there's less and less of a chance I think (that) the Yankees don't sign him back. How could you let a guy go that is going to win the MVP, is probably going to break (Roger) Maris' (American League home run) record and he has a chance to win the triple crown?"

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