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Aaron Judge not defending his Home Run Derby title, but everyone has fond memories from last year’s show

Aaron Judge of the Yankees and the American

Aaron Judge of the Yankees and the American League All-Stars poses during Gatorade All-Star Workout Day at Nationals Park on Monday in Washington. Credit: Getty Images / Patrick Smith

WASHINGTON — Bryce Harper remembered it well.

As did just about everyone who took in last year’s Home Run Derby in Miami when Aaron Judge, sitting out this year’s event, put on the show of shows in winning in his first attempt.

“Hitting those [opposite-field] homers in the upper deck,” said Harper, the Nationals star outfielder and hometown favorite this year. “I’ve never seen that in my life.”

No one watching that night, whether on TV or in person, had.

Aaron Boone, having no idea he’d be managing Judge at one point, was on vacation with his family in California and tuned in “with interest,” he said.

“My first real look at seeing how otherworldly Judgy is power-wise,” Boone said.

Judge entered last year’s All-Star break with an MLB-best 30 home runs. His participation in the Derby contributed to it being one of the most-hyped competitions the event has ever had. Though seeded second (defending champion Giancarlo Stanton was seeded first), Judge was heavily favored.

And the rookie slugger managed to surpass the sky-high expectations accompanying him.

Four of Judge’s homers, for example, surpassed 500 feet. Two of his blasts actually clipped the roof at Marlins Park, something the engineers of the ballpark had thought a near impossibility when planning it.

The first of those roof balls resulted in what turned into a gone-viral picture — teammate Dellin Betances, in his fourth All-Star Game, on the sideline with his mouth wide-open in amazement, both hands on his head.

“Everybody was like, ‘What the [expletive] is going on?” Betances recalled. “To be sitting there, right there like 10 feet away . . . he put on a show for the players and for the fans. What I tell everybody is he hit BP at a Home Run Derby.”

Judge nearly got taken out in the first round.

The lefty-swinging Justin Bour of the Marlins, spurred by a noisy home crowd, put on his own show with 22 homers.

With a little over two minutes left in his round, Judge was down 22-9 and called for time. Betances walked out and reached him first.

“I just pretty much told him, ‘You got this,’ ” Betances said. “He was like, ‘Don’t worry, I got it, no worries.’ ”

Zeroing in on Yankees’ batting-practice specialist Danilo Valiente, whom Judge brought along, the rightfielder launched missile after missile, tying Bour with just under 10 seconds remaining, then sending a screaming liner over the fences to advance.

“Gave him some water, cooled him off a little bit and he just got hot and just kept hitting them out,” Betances said. “I think everybody was in awe.”

The 6-7, 282-pound Judge then beat the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger in the semifinals and the Twins’ Miguel Sano in the final.

“The ability of him to just touch the ball and it could go out anywhere,” Indians first baseman Yonder Alonso said last weekend.

Alonso, then with the A’s, was an All-Star in Miami last season and on the sideline.

“For Marlins Park, that’s a pretty big field and he was going the oppositie way into the upper deck. It’s hard for lefties to go to rightfield in the upper deck and he was doing it from the right side into the upper deck. It was kind of a lucky thing that we all got to witness.”

Judge announced in spring training he would not be competing in this year’s Derby and never seriously considered changing his mind.

On Monday, he called the event an “adrenaline rush” and had nothing but good memories of the competition.

“It was awesome. A lot of fun, the crowd was into it,” he said. “Bour, that [first round] was pretty tough. Just trying to put on a good show for the fans.”

Harper was among them.

“He already won it, so I don’t want to see it,” Harper laughed when asked if he was disappointed Judge wasn’t participating.

He paused.

“As a fan, yeah, absolutely [I want him in],” Harper said. “He’s a special talent.”

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