New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge belted his 61st home run of the season in Toronto on Wednesday night, setting the American League record set by fellow pinstripe great Roger Maris.
Judge’s latest long ball came against Blue Jays pitcher Tim Mayza in the seventh inning at Rogers Center.
Before this latest home run, Judge had been without a homer for seven consecutive games, a non-noteworthy fact for virtually all other players but a drought by the slugger’s lofty 2022 standard.
Judge has still been very productive in his homer-less stretch, drawing 12 walks and scoring five runs as the Yankees went 6-1 in that span.
wednesday’s historic blast moved Judge into a tie for the seventh most homers hit in a single season.
The three players and seven campaigns listed ahead of Judge and Maris are all National League sluggers who’ve been linked to performing enhancing drugs:
- Barry Bonds has the record for most home runs in a season, with 73 in 2001 for the San Francisco Giants. Bonds is the lifetime MLB home run leader with 762.
- Mark McGwire smacked a then-MLB record 70 in 1998 for the St. Louis Cardinals.
- The Cards slugger dubbed “Big Mac” followed up that historic season by hitting 65 out of the park in 1999.
- Sammy Sosa chased McGwire throughout 1998 and ended up with 66 long balls for the Chicago Cubs.
- The Chicago power hitter smacked 64 round-trippers in 2001.
- Sosa hit followed up his McGwire chase with another homer-filled summer in 1999 and 63 shots.
But in the minds of many baseball fans, Maris’ mark is the untainted, real record that deserves the most adulation.
The respect Maris, who hit 61 home runs in 1961, receives today stands in stark contrast to the lack of esteem he rightfully deserved in that magical season, 61 summers ago.
Babe Ruth hit 60 homers in the 154-game season of 1927 and Maris’ feat of 61 long balls came in a 162-game campaign, prompting then-MLB Commissioner Ford Frick to call for “some distinctive mark in the record books to show” the difference in games played.
While Frick never ordered any asterisk to be placed by Maris’ name, the accomplishment of 61 home runs never got the admiration then that it does in these contemporary, post-steroid years.
Now Maris’ name is linked to baseball’s well-liked 2021 home run leader Judge, a 30-year-old Linden, California native.
Judge has been an elite home run hitter since his first full season in the Bronx, when he smacked 52 homers in 2017.
The Bronx Bomber has saved his best season yet for this, his possible walk year as he’s likely to test the free agent market ahead of the 2023 campaign.
Prior to the season, Judge reportedly turned down a seven-year, $213.5 million contract offer from his current team, setting himself up for a deal that could go north of $300 million with the Yankees or another big-money bidder.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism