One such fan was Frankie Lasagna, the 37-year-old owner of a restaurant in Toronto, who was in position in the seventh inning of Wednesday's game when Judge belted a line drive over the left field wall. Lasagna was one of several fans who leaned over the railing as the ball came within inches of their outstretched arms and gloves, instead bouncing off a wall and ricocheting into the Blue Jays bullpen.
"In the front row I felt like you've got the best chance," Lasagna said, per The Canadian Press. "Lo and behold, I was just a few feet away."
61 (AND COUNTING): Yankees slugger Aaron Judge ties American League home run record
Judge entered the Yankees' series at Toronto this week one shy of the AL record of 61 home runs set by Roger Maris in 1961. The only players to surpass Maris — Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa — all did so as suspected or confirmed steroid users, leading some to consider Judge's quest a push for the legitimate season record.
Lasagna, who wore a Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. jersey, said he intentionally bought his game ticket to be in the first row of the outfield bleachers because of Judge's chase for history.
"I would never ever bring a glove other than this situation," Lasagna said. "I needed a bigger one ... Two more feet and I would have had it. I needed a fishing net and I would have got it."
Instead, Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann gathered it before he and and Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano passed it to Yankees reliever Zack Britton. who had walked over from the New York bullpen. Britton passed it along to a Yankees equipment manager so that they could store it for safekeeping until after the game. Eventually, after the game, Judge gave the ball to his mother, who was also in attendance.
"It's a very important ball," Romano said. "There was a lot of people there. We just didn't want to give it to the wrong people."
That left fans in left field reeling, as television cameras captured their disappointed faces. Another fan, wearing a Bo Bichette jersey, came even closer to catching Judge’s drive. He was clearly distraught when it fell from his grasp and declined to be interviewed.
"It's like you're in the game, you're fielding and getting ready for the pitch," Lasagna said of the fan experience. "When he hit the ball, it was like 'Oh my God! Oh my God!' I think I hit my buddy in his neck (as I stretched out). I almost got it."
Lasagna said he would've kept the historic souvenir, whose value likely would've surpassed several hundred thousand dollars, if not approaching toward the million mark.
"I would have held on to it for as long as I could (to) negotiate," Lasagna said. "Maybe get Judge to try to come to the restaurant. ... The disbelief comes over you and just the shock and the amazement. I was like, 'Oh my God, I almost had it.'"
Contributing: Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Frankie Lasagna missed opportunity to catch Aaron Judge's 61st HR