Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is the reigning American League MVP. Last year he hit 62 home runs, breaking Roger Maris’s single-season Yankees record (and, some might say, the legitimate single-season MLB record). Over the winter, he signed a nine-year, $360 million contract and was then named as the Yankees’ captain. Fittingly, he hit the first home run of the 2023 MLB season.
But despite all of that, the man can’t get a properly oriented belt — or so it would appear.
Like many MLB players these days, Judge wears a uni-numbered belt. But in all of the Yankees’ games so far this season, the “99” on his belt has been upside-down, resulting in a “66.” (This was briefly mentioned in Sunday’s Ticker, before I realized it was a season-long thing.) The photo at the top of this page is from last night’s game; here are pics of Judge from all of the Yanks’ other games this season:
Judge wore a non-numbered belt during spring training (at least in all of the photos I was able to find) and had a properly oriented No. 99 belt last year, so the upside-down belt number is a new thing for the 2023 regular season.
Judge, like most MLBers — and most people in general — wears his belt with the buckle facing to his right. The “99” would be properly oriented if he wore the belt with the buckle facing the other way, to the left, but such players are very rare. So while I can imagine the belt manufacturer accidentally using the righty number orientation for a left-buckled player (“Oops, we printed it the way we do for most players — forgot that you wear it the other way”), it strains credulity to think that they’d accidentally use the lefty number orientation for a right-buckler, especially for a player of Judge’s stature. It’s also hard to believe that Judge would keep wearing the upside-down number for such an extended period unless he wanted to.
In short: I think this is all intentional, and probably motivational. I think that after hitting 62 home runs last year, Judge has his sights set on 66 this year, or something along those lines. Either that or it’s some sort of shout-out to teammate Kyle Higashioka, who wears No. 66, but I strongly doubt that. What do you think?