Yankees designated hitter Aaron Judge was hit by a pitch in the first inning of Thursday's 7-2 win over the Royals, and the Yankee Stadium crowd held its collective breath.
When he came up again in the third inning, there was a sense of relief. But when he was removed from the game in the fourth inning, that's when tension began to build.
Later in the game, before the team announced Judge would miss at least three weeks with a chip fracture in his right wrist, Yankees fans showed their support in perhaps the most 2018 fashion imaginable: by holding a "candlelight vigil" with their phones.
There is a candle light vigil for Aaron Judge going on right now. I love everyone here pic.twitter.com/Soo5GgJAm9- Eric Hubbs (@BarstoolHubbs) July 27, 2018
"Credit to myself and everyone at the Yankees game who turned on their phones and did a silent prayer, because we saved Aaron Judge," said Eric Hubbs, a Barstool Sports writer and host of "The Short Porch" podcast who sat approximately 20 rows back down the third-base line on Thursday who posted the video to Twitter.
Hubbs started recording on his phone, but said it took him a moment or two to fully understand what he was filming.
"I didn't realize what I was recording until I was five to 10 seconds in, I was like, 'This is crazy,'" he said. "We thought they were going to have to stop the game because nobody could focus. It was a very weird, bizarre, hilarious event going on."
Hubbs said he wasn't sure exactly who started the ceremony, but he knew it originated somewhere in the upper deck. It was impossible to miss.
"I didn't even care about the game because it was out of hand, and my mind just went to, 'Wow, everyone's doing a candlelight vigil for Aaron Judge, this is awesome,'" Hubbs said. "I don't know if it's my stupid brain at work, but it was pretty cool. More and more people were turning on their lights and no one on their field knew what was going on. I think the YES Network panned to Greg Bird at first base and he was just so confused at what was happening."
Judge was hit by a 93 mph Jakob Junis fastball in the first inning, but stayed in the game and scored on a Giancarlo Stanton sac fly. From his seat, Hubbs said he could peer into the dugout and see Judge talking with trainer Steve Donohue, and admitted he was nervous when they went into the tunnel.
But Judge, who was the designated hitter on Thursday, came up to bat again in the third inning and hit an infield single, it seemed promising ... until Miguel Andujar pinch hit for Judge in the fourth inning.
"I remember I went to go get food and I find out that he's on his way to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and my heart sank," Hubbs said. "By the time I got back to my seat, I put my food down and I was just so glued to my phone refreshing Twitter that I just never touched my food. It's probably still there -- a hot dog and fries. I never touched it because I was so nervous."
X-rays were immediately inconclusive, so Judge underwent further tests at the hospital. A fake account duped some reporters and the TV broadcast. Judge's status was unclear until 11:02 p.m., when the team announced he had a chip fracture in his ulnar styloid bone, an injury in which surgery was not recommended.
But in the game's later innings, Hubbs looked up and saw groups of fans holding their lit-up cell phones as a sign of support for Judge. And he caught it on video.
"I 100 percent believe in my heart that if we don't do the candlelight vigil, he's out for the year and we're shopping for a new outfielder/DH, big bat," Hubbs said. "The candlelight vigil 100 percent saved Judge, changed the X-ray and MRI, changed it all, and that's the reason he's only out three to four weeks and not a few months plus the postseason. It could have been a lot worse."
"Some people on Twitter said it was for Neil Walker," Hubbs added with a laugh. "I don't think we're doing a whole thing like that for Neil Walker."
Hubbs said he's been to some baseball games with memorable walk-offs, but in terms of off-the-field moments, Thursday night ranked No. 1 in terms of the craziest.
"In my opinion," he said, "we saved Aaron Judge from being out for the whole year."