TORONTO (AP) — When Aaron Judge’s American League record-tying 61st home run dropped into Toronto’s bullpen, coach Matt Buschmann picked it up — a souvenir worth potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Bad news is I’m down here in Florida battling a hurricane, but the good news is I can announce my retirement,” tweeted Buschmann’s wife, Sara Walsh, a Fox Sports reporter and former ESPN anchor.
Then Buschmann and Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano passed it to Yankees reliever Zack Britton, who made sure it got to Judge.
Walsh then added: “Oh cool. He just handed that back without checking to see if our house is still here? I’d next like to announce our divorce.”
And to make perfectly clear that she was just kidding, she went on to tweet: “Just a reporter doing work here… per my sources… Matt Buschmann wasn’t forced to give the ball back but he handed it over to Zack Britton” adding he told her “The Judge and Maris family have been flying all over the country. They deserve to have that ball.”
Judge entered the Yankees’ series at Toronto this week one shy of the AL record of 61 home runs set by Roger Maris in 1961. The only players to surpass Maris — Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa — all did so as suspected or confirmed steroid users, leading some to consider Judge’s quest a push for the legitimate season record.
When Judge hit a 3-2 pitch from Blue Jays left-hander Tim Mayza toward the lower deck in left field in the seventh inning on Wednesday night, fans wearing gloves readied themselves to try to catch a piece of baseball history. Instead, the ball grazed past two outstretched gloves, bounced off a wall and dropped into Toronto’s bullpen.
“The disbelief comes over you and just the shock and the amazement,″ said Frankie Lasagna, one of the two fans closest to the ball. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I almost had it.’”
Lasagna, a Toronto restaurant owner, knew what was at stake when he bought his front-row ticket. He said he wouldn’t typically bring a glove to a game.
“In the front row I felt like you’ve got the best chance,” he said. “Lo and behold, I was just a few feet away.”
Next to Lasagna, a Blue Jays fan wearing a Bo Bichette jersey came even closer to catching Judge’s drive. He was clearly distraught when it fell from his grasp and declined to be interviewed.