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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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Batesole and Judge permanently leave their mark at Fresno State with jersey retirements

Mike+Batesole+%28left%29+and+Aaron+Judge+%28right%29+sit+during+a+press+conference+at+Josephine+Theater+on+Nov.+19.+
Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian
Mike Batesole (left) and Aaron Judge (right) sit during a press conference at Josephine Theater on Nov. 19.

It’s not often that a head coach and his player get their jerseys retired on the same day for the same university, but such was the case for Aaron Judge and Mike Batesole.

On Sunday, Nov. 19, Fresno State unveiled Batesole’s name on the left field of Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium and Judge’s name on the press box. 

“Nobody else I’d rather share this moment with. The lessons I’ve learned from coach [Batesole], some of them tough lessons, some of them good lessons.” Judge said. “I may have been angry or have been upset about you know ‘Why is he getting on me so much?’ but then when you look back at it and once you’re out of here you see how he set me up for my life.”

The first time Batesole and Judge met was in a summer showcase, before Judge came to college, that was hosted at Fresno State. On the first day of the camp, Judge was hitting and Batesole went up to him and told him that he wanted to talk to his parents. 

When they all met, Batesole told them about the Diamond ‘Dog baseball program and offered him a scholarship. 

“It took three swings and there were other scouts in the stands from other schools, so I was like ‘That’s enough. Where’s your parents? Nobody else is seeing anything. Let’s go,’” Batesole said in the press conference before the jersey retirement. 

Batesole talks talks during the jersey retirement ceremony at Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium. (Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian)

Batesole coached at Fresno State for 20 seasons from 2003-22. As the third baseball coach at Fresno State, he led the Diamond ‘Dogs to multiple conference championships, seven NCAA tournament appearances and the 2008 National Championship. 

“So many people have loved me to this podium, and that’s what today is about,” Batesole said. 

Batesole talked about his parents, kids and wife Susie, who worked night shifts and took care of their kids during the day to help out because his first coaching job paid him only $24,000 a year. He expressed his gratitude towards them for their support.

When Batesole became a coach at Fresno State, three of the 20 seasons he coached were spent alongside Judge from 2011-13. 

At Fresno State, Judge’s journey would consist of earning multiple conference selections, winning the TD Ameritrade Home Run Derby and then getting drafted by the Yankees in 2013. 

The Bulldog connection runs deep for Judge. His parents, Patty and Wayne, met at Fresno State when they were students. Judge’s wife, Samantha Bracksieck, also attended Fresno State as a student. 

Judge looks down the field surrounded by former players and family. (Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian)

“We’re a little Bulldog family, I guess. It’s something that means a lot to us. Hearing as a kid all the special memories my parents shared here,” Judge said. “We reminisce, especially in the off-season when I get to come home, we’ll reminisce on some of the college days and now as I’m older, on my own, I can tell them some of the stories I didn’t tell them back in the day when I was at Fresno.” 

Judge recalled a moment with Batesole where he wasn’t hitting well during a game and sat at the end of the dugout, slammed his helmet and pouted. Judge said he heard a voice from the other side of the dugout that said “Hey Judgey, you better get real comfortable right there, you keep this up you’re going to be sitting there all spring.” 

After Fresno State, Judge went on to the MLB and made his Yankees debut in 2016. He was unanimously voted Rookie of the Year, set an American League record for most home runs in a season with 62 and was the 2017 American League MVP. 

He attributes his success to the lessons learned in Fresno. 

“Learning those lessons here allowed me to take that into New York, and with the Yankees,” Judge Said. “And the cultures just align perfectly. What the Yankees is all about, about winning, about the team, about tradition; that’s everything that I learned here at Fresno State.” 

Two young fans wear Judge’s Fresno State shirts as they look down the field. (Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian)
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