Aaron Judge New York Yankees
Vincent Carchietta | USA TODAY Sports

The love some Yankees fans have for Aaron Judge knows no bounds.

Just ask this young fan at Tuesday night’s win in Toronto. Judge hit a game-tying home run, a Blue Jays fan caught it, then gave it to him before tears and a hug. How wonderfully Canadian, right?

This is fandom at its best, to catch a home run ball from your favorite player. And while wearing their t-shirt jersey, to boot!

But this? This is a defining factor of Judge’s young career and why the Yankees absolutely must re-sign him this winter. At the end of a long storied career, we will automatically discuss his home run that brought a young fan to happy tears.

Think of similar stories from Yankeeland throughout the years. Babe Ruth sent a care package to a child in the hospital, promised to hit a home run, and followed through three times over. Generations later, in the ’90s, Derek Jeter was such a symbol that Yankee Stadium’s atmosphere rivaled prime Beatlemania.

It’s now Judge’s turn. His home run not only made this fan’s night, but was the spark for the Yankees’ winning their 11th-straight game.

What does all of this have to do with Judge’s impending free agency? The answer is simple. The man is indeed that once-in-a-generation talent that commands an audience wherever he goes. Granted, at 6-foot-8, Judge does that automatically, but his work on the diamond is practically must-see TV.

Given he’s batting .303 with an MLB-leading nine home runs and is also on an eight-game hitting streak, Judge knows it. Betting on himself and turning down a $230.5 million extension is proving the right decision so far. It doesn’t matter that he just turned 30 and has dealt with injuries. Aaron Judge wants it known that wherever he is next season, he expects to be paid. And on his terms.

The Yankees cannot afford to let Judge leave the Bronx. They just can’t. Forget which specific player could fill his void. Losing someone who overwhelms fans’ emotions while putting up MVP numbers leaves a void that sometimes stays vacant for years.

If general manager Brian Cashman is as smart and shrewd as he’s been several times over, there’s no way he will let this happen. Or else, young fans will cry for a different reason.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.