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Aaron Judge speaks with his biggest fan, Derek Rodriguez, at the Rogers Center in Toronto on Wednesday. photo AP

Aaron Judge hit a home run Tuesday night.

The bullet traveled 427 feet into the second deck of the Rogers Center in Toronto.

The blast tied the Yankees-Blue Jays game 1-1, a contest the Bronx Bombers eventually won 9-1 for their 11th straight win.

But as hot as the Yanks are – they saw their winning streak end with a 2-1 loss to Toronto on Wednesday night – that’s not what most baseball fans have been talking about since the No. 99 pitched. his ninth round, the best in the Major League. tripping over cheap seats.

It’s what happened after the ball landed that’s the ultimate feel-good story. Kaitlyn McGrath of The Athletic captured it perfectly. Here is his account of the homer, affirming what a simple act of kindness can do:

Throughout the game, Mike Lanzillotta had been trying to get a baseball from the young New York Yankees fan sitting behind him.

That young Yankees fan was 9-year-old Derek Rodriguez. He and his father, Cesar, a huge Yankees fan, have tickets to every game in this three-game series between the Yankees and Blue Jays at Rogers Center. Derek’s favorite player is Aaron Judge. Before the series, his father gave him a brand new Yankees jersey. JUDGE 99 is written on the back. He’s worn it in both games so far. After what happened on Tuesday, chances are he will wear it on Wednesday as well.

In the sixth inning, Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah faced Judge for the third time. The Blue Jays right-hander had twice got the better of Judge, hitting him on his first two at bats. But in a full count, Manoah threw the judge a 96 mph fastball inside and the Yankees right fielder didn’t miss, sending a hardcore into the second deck of the left field stands. In a moment of true poetry, he landed – you guessed it – right where Lanzillotta was sitting.

Lanzillotta knew what he had to do with the ball. He had made a promise to the kid.

When it came to me, and I picked it up, and I was like, ‘Wow, like, I gotta give it to that kid,’said Lanzillotta. “It’s his player, his T-shirt.

Then Lanzillotta, the hardcore Blue Jays fan, turned around and handed Derek, the young Yankees fan, the baseball that had popped out of the boy’s hero bat. Derek immediately hugged Lanzillotta. He was so overwhelmed with emotion that he burst into tears.

Since then, videos of the giveaway — from an adult Blue Jays fan to a young Yankees fan — have gone viral on social media. When Judge found out after the game, he was clearly touched.

“That’s what’s special about this game, man,” said the judge. “It doesn’t matter what jersey you wear, everyone is a fan, everyone is enjoying this game. It’s pretty cool. I have to watch this video. It’s special.

It’s a moment neither Lanzillotta nor young Derek will ever forget.

How can I know?

Well I had mine “Derek Rodriguez” time 52 years ago. I was 9 too. My dad and I had tickets to a double game between the Yankees and the Cleveland Indians at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

Dad and I arrived early, and since the call window hadn’t opened yet, I struck up a conversation with a woman who was a huge Indians fan (remember, I had just finished third year at Fairmount Elementary School). She was trying to convince me that Duke Sims – the tribe’s catcher – was going to have a better season than the Yankees’ rookie catcher, a young man named Thurman Munson.

Our debate lasted about 15 minutes, and apparently I was doing a pretty good job of pleading Thurm’s case, but it was cut short when the voluntary appeal window opened. My dad took the tickets, handed me one, and I headed for the turnstiles.

Just as I was about to make my way, a woman in front of me turned in my direction and reached out to shake mine. As I looked at her, she said (according to my father): “Thank you for your kind comments about my husband. I am Mrs. Thurman Munson.

I don’t think I said a word. I was too dumbfounded.

Unlike Derek Rodriguez, I didn’t cry over Diana Munson’s greetings over half a century ago – the point is, I don’t think I stopped smiling until Dad and I got back to Jamestown that night – but the memory of it has made my eyes water more than once in the last 36 hours. Because in a time of far too much acrimony, name-calling and, let’s be honest, hate, these two acts of kindness are just small examples of how our world could be different if we followed the example of people like Lanzillotta and Diana Munson.

As Hall of Fame director Sparky Anderson once said:

“It doesn’t cost a penny to be nice. You can give it away for free and that means over a million dollars.

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