The youth of today have come to know about many truly remarkable Christian role models from the sports world in recent years. These are leaders who young people can look up to for inspiration and motivation.
Now known coast to coast, they include Heisman-winning football and now minor league baseball star Tim Tebow, NBA whiz kid Jeremy Lin, Nashville Predators captain and Stanley Cup finalist Mike Fisher, and 2016 World Series MVP Ben Zobrist.
And this year, a new (literal) giant has blasted – or, batted – onto the sports scene. He is none other than New York Yankees rookie, rising star and right fielder Aaron Judge. And on top of his exceptional skill as a baseball player, his unapologetic faith in God and family values stands to make him a role model for a whole new generation of fans.
Larger Than Life
Standing at 6 feet 7 inches, 25-year-old Judge is larger than life – not just in stature for a baseball player, but in terms of his success already this baseball season.
Although he hasn’t been a Yankee for long, his accomplishments would be impressive even for a seasoned veteran of the game. Judge led the major league in homers (30 home runs) and runs (a staggering total of 75) at the All Star game break. He won the Home Run Derby – and seemed to easily leave his rivals in the dust.
Before the Derby, he held the season record for longest home run (495 feet), but outdid even himself by hitting a massive 513-foot slugger on the incredible night of the Derby. It’s clear that “gentle giant” Judge has hitting homers down to a science.
He also defied science in the Home Run Derby by repeatedly hitting the ball field’s ceiling even though scientists who designed the structure said the ceiling was higher than any ball could ever reach.
This wasn’t the first time Judge had won a Home Run Derby. While he was a student at California State University at Fresno, he defeated rivals in the 2012 TD Ameritrade College Baseball Home Run Derby.
The evening after the 2017 Home Run Derby, Judge’s American League team won the All Star Game. That’s just a sampling of accomplishments in a year that keeps getting better for Judge.
Face of the Game
Speculation is building to indicate that Judge could be one of the only players of the game ever to catch both the MVP and Rookie of the Year accolades for the American League. If he manages to earn both honors in the same season, he will be one of only three players to have ever done so.
Aaron Judge, who’s been compared to fellow Yankee Babe Ruth, “can become the face of the game,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred boldly stated to reporters at the All-Star Game.
“He is a tremendous talent on the field and really appealing off the field,” he said.
That “off the field” part gives a hint as to how Judge has managed to do what he’s already done.
Standing on the Rock
What is the secret to Judge’s success? How does he stay grounded, and what are his priorities? In the words of the long-beloved hymn, “On Christ the solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.”
Judge places his faith front and center in his life. His Twitter page bio says “Christian. Faith, Family, then Baseball.” The top of his Twitter page proclaims in large letters “For we walk by faith, not by sight” from 2 Corinthians 5:7.
Judge frequently posts inspirational messages on his social media, and is widely known as an upstanding person whether on or off the field. Clearly Judge’s faith provides a firm foundation on which to build a lifetime of success.
The rising baseball star was adopted as a one-day-old baby, and raised by his parents with a great deal of love and guidance. He achieved much during his early years, and not just in sports – but in other areas of his life from academics to character and leadership. Multitalented in sports, he played football, basketball and baseball. Judge chose baseball as the game he enjoyed most. Before settling at right field, he also excelled as a pitcher.
Aaron Judge certainly is an excellent role model in sports, life and Christianity, not just for young people but also those of all ages. And his story is one for the ages. Stay tuned, because his bat is just getting warmed up.
~ 1776 Christian