Before Aaron Judge was hitting home runs for the New York Yankees — and before his Home Run Derby victory Monday night — he was a highly touted tight end recruit in high school. Judge, who graduated from Linden High School in California in 2010, played baseball, football, and basketball before heading to Fresno State to play baseball.
He’s now obviously doing quite well with his baseball career -- just over the weekend, he blasted this 495-foot home run, the longest of the MLB season so far.
But back at Linden High, Judge was a star in all three of his sports. According to the The Record, in Stockton, Calif., he racked up plenty of awards during his senior year.
As a senior, he was named to The Record’s All-Area first team in all three sports.
Last fall, he set Linden High football records for single-season receiving yards (969), single-season touchdown receptions (17 on 54 catches) and career touchdown catches (21).
Over two seasons per MaxPreps, Judge accounted for 1,405 yards and 22 touchdowns. During his senior season he caught 54 passes for 969 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was so good, in fact, he was recruited by some top football programs including UCLA, Stanford, and Notre Dame. His Linden coach Mike Huber said one of Judge’s signature plays in the red zone was what they called the “Jump Pass” a la Florida quarterback Tim Tebow’s famous one. Judge’s 6’7 233-pound frame made making the catch easy.
His Linden High quarterback would simply lob a pass into the end zone, where his 6-foot-7, 240-pound wide receiver, a kid named Aaron Judge, would inevitably rise above the masses and catch it.
“Nobody,” said Huber, who coached Judge for three years at the high school outside of Stockton, Calif., “could stop him.”
There is little doubt in the minds of anyone who saw him play football that Judge could have had a career in the NFL, if he had wanted one. He was athletic enough that Huber considered making him a quarterback at first, before deciding his size and speed would be better utilized at wide receiver, and Judge went on to break the school records in touchdown receptions and receiving yards.
There’s no doubt that he loved all three sports, but Judge’s love of baseball from an early age made it clear he was going to choose the sport as a career. Some smaller schools would let him play both football and baseball, but he eventually signed with Fresno State.
The decision paid off. The Yankees drafted Judge in the the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft. During three seasons in New York’s minor league system, he hit 60 home runs, and was called up to the majors last August. He’s been the most dominant hitter in the majors this year, with 30 homers at the All-Star break.