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After Judge smashed the homer that landed in the second deck of Rogers Centre Tuesday evening, the Blue Jays fan, Mike Lanzillotta, was seen pumping his fists in the air in celebration. He then quickly handed the ball off to a young fan in a Yankees cap and a Judge shirt.
The boy, Derek Rodriguez, 9, was overcome with emotion as he threw his arms around the stranger and cried.
On Wednesday, Derek shed more tears after he and his family were invited onto the field and into the Yankees dugout before the series finale against the Blue Jays.
The family watched the Yankees take batting practice before Judge joined the youngster in the dugout for a quick conversation.
Nine-year-old Derek Rodriguez meets New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge in the dugout Wednesday, May 4, 2022, before the Yankees’ baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto. (Gregory Strong/The Canadian Press via AP)
Derek was seen crying as Judge – his favorite player – stopped by, signed the home run ball, and handed him a pair of his batting gloves.
“That’s a moment that’s been seen around the world now,” Judge said. “It just speaks volumes to the Blue Jays fans they have here. It’s a cool little connection they’ve got.”
Lanzillotta also received an invitation for his selfless gesture after Yankees manager Aaron Boone said it “really warmed my heart.”
Nine-year-old Derek Rodriguez poses for a photo Wednesday, May 4, 2022, in Toronto with Mike Lanzillotta, the Toronto Blue Jays fan who caught the ball on a home run by New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge on Tuesday and handed it to Derek. On Wednesday, Judge signed the ball and met Derek before the game. (Gregory Strong/The Canadian Press via AP)
Derek, who was born in Venezuela before his family moved to Canada roughly five years ago, was named after Yankees legend Derek Jeter.
He also fittingly plays shortstop and right field. Jeter was a Hall of Fame shortstop with the Yankees, while Judge is the team’s right fielder.
Derek said he showed off the Judge home run ball to his friends at school Wednesday.
“My friends and my teacher were really happy, and they congratulated me,” the youngster said. “My teacher even made a presentation where she showed what happened, and people got to touch the ball. It was just amazing.”
Fox News’ Brie Stimson and the Associated Press contributed to this report