For weeks, Major League Baseball officials had been pleading for Judge to enter the showcase event. This was far different from the only other home-run-hitting contest he entered — the one in Omaha, site of the College World Series, in 2012. When Judge, who had hit four home runs that season as a sophomore at Fresno State, received his invitation, he asked, “Are you sure you want me out there?”
But at the end of the Omaha derby, there was little question Judge belonged.
Down to his last out and trailing by one home run, Judge hit four consecutive balls out of the ballpark to win the contest, much to the delight of the 22,403 in attendance, including Bo Jackson. It was by far the biggest crowd for which Judge had performed.
“In college, on good nights, maybe you’d have 10,000 people,” Judge said. “After you hit one and two and three, they get a little excited and you can hear them, and you feed off that.”
That night in Omaha remains a cherished moment, not just for Judge, but for many of the eight participants in the derby. One, Virginia’s Derek Fisher, is a top prospect for the Houston Astros. Another, Georgia…