Joe Judge was a small man (5 feet 8� inches, 155 pounds), yet he spent 17 consecutive seasons with the Washington Senators, batted over .300 nine times and was considered one of the finest fielding first basemen ever to play in the major leagues.
Judge started his baseball career as a left-handed shortstop for the Yorkville Orients, a fast semi pro team in the Yorkville section of New York City. "It never dawned on me that I was one of the rare southpaws in the country playing short," Judge said before his recent death. "And I probably would be the only 67-year-old, left-handed shortstop in creation today if it hadn't been for Bud Hannah."
Hannah, a neighborhood mailman, used to pause in his rounds every day to watch the Orients work out and was quick to spot the talents of the skinny kid called "Josie" at short.
"One day Hannah called me over," Judge said, "and told me I was wasting my time playing short, that a left-hander could never play that position in the big leagues—and I had my heart set on making it to the bigs even then. He told me to get myself a first baseman's mitt and start practicing with it.
"Well, I was a poor kid and I told him the finger glove was all I was likely to own in the way of baseball equipment for years to come. And that ended the conversation."
But the next day Hannah was back at the field. He called Judge over and handed him a box, saying, "This is for you, kid. Use it well."
"Inside was the most beautiful first baseman's mitt I've ever seen, before or since," said Judge. "I don't know how he could afford it. Mailmen didn't get much in those days. It must have set him back a week's pay."
Judge immediately started putting that mitt to good use, as Hannah had urged, and it was not long before scouts for the Giants, Dodgers, Senators, Indians and Red Sox were casually dropping by the East Side ball field to take a look at the kid first baseman. Judge signed with Boston in 1914 and was on his way to the majors.
"I played at Buffalo for a while with Joe McCarthy [the old Yankee manager] who was our second baseman," Judge said, "and then I was sold to Washington toward the end of the 1915 season. I never forgot Bud Hannah, though, when I got to the majors."
Judge always left a pair of tickets for Hannah whenever Washington came in to New York to play the Yankees. "Before each game I would walk over to Hannah's box, shake hands with him and maybe have our picture taken together. He got a big kick out of it, and whatever friend he brought with him would be greatly impressed. It was little enough after all he had done for me."