New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge has a curiously high number for a major leaguer. High numbers, like his 99, are usually given to younger players during Spring Training. Judge has had the number since 2016 and has stuck with it, making #99 the highest-selling MLB jersey of 2017. There’s a reason why Judge has stuck with the number so long.
In an interview with NJ.com last year, Judge said 99 isn’t his favorite number. After all, his Twitter handle is @thejudge44, not @thejudge99. But Judge can never wear 44 as a Yankee because that number is retired in honor of Reggie Jackson. “44 is a number I really like,” Judge said.
However, that’s not really his favorite number. He loves 35, but that number belongs to pitcher Michael Pineda. Judge said he would love to switch numbers if Pineda ever leaves the team.
But then again, he also told NJ.com that 99 is a “good number” and he might stick with it for the rest of his Yankees career.
Considering how well Judge’s rookie season went, it would be shocking to see Judge change his number at this point. In his first full season in the majors, he hit 52 home runs, breaking the all-time rookie record, and hit .284. Thanks to his success, his jersey was the top-selling player’s jersey for the 2017 season, beating the Cubs’ Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo; Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers; and the Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper.
Judge isn’t the first Yankees player to wear 99. The first player was Charlie Keller, who briefly wore it for part of his final season in 1952. Keller wore 9 from 1939 to 1949 for the Yankees. In 1945, he wore 15 and from 145 to 1948, he wore 12. During his 1950 and 1951 seasons in Detroit, he wore 27. In 1952, he re-joined the Yankees for his final season, first wearing 28 before switching to 99.
The only other Yankee to wear 99 was Brian Bruney, a reliever who pitched for the Yankees from 2007 to 2009. During the 2009 season, he switched from 38 to 99.
Only 15 players have ever worn 99 in the majors and most of them had short tenures. The longest tenured player to wear 99 was So Tagushi, who wore the number during his entire eight-year career.
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