Young Yankees fan meets Aaron Judge after being given home-run ball by Blue Jays fan

·2 min read
Derek Rodriguez, 9, a New York Yankees fan born in Caracas, Venezuela, and now based in Canada, met with his baseball hero Aaron Judge on Wednesday. (@Yankees/Twitter - image credit)
Derek Rodriguez, 9, a New York Yankees fan born in Caracas, Venezuela, and now based in Canada, met with his baseball hero Aaron Judge on Wednesday. (@Yankees/Twitter - image credit)

The young Yankees fan who became a viral sensation on Tuesday shed more tears of joy on Wednesday when he met his hero, New York slugger Aaron Judge.

It came hours after cameras captured Derek Rodriguez, 9, tearfully hugging Blue Jays fan Mike Lanzillotta after Lanzillotta snagged Judge's sixth-inning home run ball and handed it to Derek almost without pause.

Derek leapt into his arms and burst into tears, overcome with the emotion of receiving a home-run ball hit by his favourite player.

"I'm really excited. My dream is to meet Aaron Judge, and well, I'm really happy that I got the ball from his home run," Rodriguez told The Athletic.

WATCH | Rodriguez gets home-run ball from Jays fan:

Judge was told about the moments by reporters following the game, which the Yankees won 9-1.

"No way," he said. "That's what's special about this game. It doesn't matter what jersey you wear. Everybody appreciates this game. That's pretty cool. I've got to check out that video."

Rodriguez, his family and Lanzillotta were invited onto the field and into the Yankees dugout before Wednesday's series finale against the Blue Jays.

Derek teared up again when Judge stopped by for a quick chat, signed the home run ball and handed over a pair of his batting gloves.

WATCH l Judge meets with Rodriguez after emotional home-run ball exchange:

"That's a moment that's been seen around the world now," Judge said of the emotional exchange. "It just speaks volumes to the Blue Jays fans they have here. It's a cool little connection they've got."

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he was touched by Lanzillotta's gesture.

"Frankly, watching it last night really warmed my heart," Boone said.

Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres also spoke to Derek in Spanish. Derek was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and his family moved to Canada about five years ago.

According to a story by The Athletic, Derek and his father Cesar Rodriguez are staunch supporters of the Blue Jays' division-rival Yankees.

Jim Lagogianes/CBC News
Jim Lagogianes/CBC News

Show and tell

Derek, who plays shortstop and right field, is named after Yankees Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter. The youngster said he took his prized ball to school Wednesday.

"My friends and my teacher were really happy and they congratulated me," he said. "My teacher even made a presentation where she showed what happened, and people got to touch the ball. It was just amazing."

Yankees spokesperson Jason Zillo said the Rodriguez family and Lanzillotta have been invited to bring a group of nine people each to New York later this season to watch a Yankees game from The Judge's Chambers seats in right field.

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