With Willie Randolph and Derek Jeter in attendance, the Yankees named Aaron Judge as the 16th team captain in franchise history in a ceremony at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
The decision, made by owner Hal Steinbrenner, was announced at a news conference that doubled as the formalizing of Judge’s nine-year, $360 million contract that was agreed to earlier this month.
Randolph and Jeter, both of whom previously held the title of team captain, were joined by General Manager Brian Cashman and Manager Aaron Boone, as well as Judge’s wife, Samantha, and his agent, Page Odle.
Dozens of media members packed into a crowded press room for the event in which Judge and others discussed his contract, which is the largest deal agreed to by a player this off-season.
The captaincy was a cherry on top for Judge, who broke Roger Maris’s American League single-season record by hitting 62 home runs in 2022 and won the A.L.’s Most Valuable Player Award.
While largely a ceremonial position — Judge was already considered the leader among Yankees players — it has carried significance over the years, both because of the franchise’s status as Major League Baseball’s most successful franchise and because of the previous players who held the job.
The first captain was Clark Griffith, a pitcher who was a player-manager for the team starting in 1903, when it was still known as the Highlanders. Several other players, including Babe Ruth, took turns in the role in subsequent years, with Lou Gehrig famously being captain from 1935 until his untimely retirement for health reasons in 1939.
The Yankees did not have a captain from Gehrig’s retirement until catcher Thurman Munson was given the job in 1976. Munson died in a plane crash in 1979 and in the years since the job has been held at various times by third baseman Graig Nettles, pitcher Ron Guidry (who shared the job with Randolph, a second baseman), first baseman Don Mattingly and, most recently, Jeter, who had the job from 2003 to 2014.