Aaron Judge meets Blue Jays, Yankees fans who created heartwarming viral moment

·3 min read
Aaron Judge met with the two fans at the centre of Tuesday's viral moment ahead of Wednesday's Blue Jays vs. Yankees game.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Aaron Judge met with the two fans at the centre of Tuesday's viral moment ahead of Wednesday's Blue Jays vs. Yankees game. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

The unlikely pair of baseball fans involved in the “moment seen around the world” are still enjoying their time in the spotlight.

During Tuesday's game between the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees at Rogers Centre, Aaron Judge launched a 427-foot home run into the second deck of the left-field seats, unaware that his blast was going to spark a viral exchange in the crowd.

Mike Lanzillotta, a Blue Jays fan, managed to secure the home run ball and threw his hands up in celebration. Then, without thinking twice, he turned and offered it to a young Yankees fan behind him.

Derek Rodriguez, the nine-year-old donning a Judge jersey taking in the game with his father, immediately threw his arms around Lanzilotta and gave him a big hug as tears of joy streamed down his face.

The heartwarming moment quickly made the rounds on social media, where many praised Lanzillotta’s kindness and revelled in the uniting spirit of sports.

On Wednesday, Lanzillotta and Rodriguez were invited to meet Judge in the Yankees dugout before the series finale, where the group spoke for a few minutes and posed for pictures with the star slugger.

“For a Blue Jays fan to have that moment with a young Yankee fan, that’s a moment seen around the world,’’ Judge said. “It speaks volumes to the Blue Jays fans they have here. … It was cool.”

Rodriguez said he took the home run ball with him to school, and called Lanzillotta a “best friend for life.”

Lanzillotta found out the pair of Yankees fans sitting behind him were desperate to catch a ball, and he knew just what to do when one landed right at his feet.

"Instinct just took over and I turned right to the kid and I said, 'Here you go, buddy,'" said Lanzillotta. "He wrapped his arms around me, and I just had an overwhelming feeling of joy and elation."

Lanzillotta’s gesture did not go unnoticed by his hometown team, as the Blue Jays and star outfielder George Springer gifted him a signed jersey prior to Wednesday’s game.

The pair have also been invited to take in a Jays-Yankees game in the Judge’s Chambers at Yankee Stadium when Toronto takes a trip to the Bronx later this season.

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