NEW YORK — The New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judgehit his 61st home run of the season, tying the American League record for home runs in a season held by Roger Maris, on a drive to left field against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.
The star outfielder is now one home run away from breaking the mark set in 1961, which also stood as the major league mark for 37 years.
With his 61st home run, the 6-foot-7 judge now moved up to seventh on the single-season home run list, breaking his tie with Babe Ruth (1927) for eighth.
There have been nine 60-home run seasons in MLB history, hit by six different players. Judge is now part of the club that already includes Hall of Famers Ruth and Maris, as well as Barry Bonds (2001), Mark McGwire (1999, 1998) and Sammy Sosa (2001, 1999, 1998).
Judge’s 60 home runs were already the most by a right-handed hitter in American League history. Judge had already joined Ruth (four) and Mickey Mantle (two) as the third member of the storied Yankees franchise to have multiple 50-HR seasons in pinstripes.
“It was great. I didn’t expect it,” Judge said after the game on the field. “Seeing the love from my teammates, I do what I do for them. And to do it in a win, it’s hard to describe right now.” Head umpire Brian O’Nora after the game congratulated Judge outside the Yankees’ dugout and handed him the official lineup card for the night.
“I’m playing child’s play and I love this. I love these moments,” Judge said. “It was a 3-3 game, and I just wanted to go out there and do my job.”
The seven-game home run drought was a rare occurrence for the select few who have reached such home run heights. Of the previous seven cases in which a player hit 61 home runs, four reached that mark in the next game after hitting 60 and none took more than three games to reach the milestone.
Judge finally got there in the series finale, with Roger Maris Jr. and Judge’s mother sitting ringside on top of the Yankees’ dugout.
And now, the only players in MLB history with the most home runs in a season are Barry Bonds (73), Mark McGwire (70, 65) and Sammy Sosa (66, 64, 63), who hit theirs during the era. of steroids (1998 to 2001).
Judge’s 2022 achievement was made without evidence of performance-enhancing drugs used by the Yankees slugger, which manager Aaron Boone believes puts the All-Star outfielder’s numbers beyond those posted by others.
“I think it puts him a step above,” Boone said last week. “I have to believe it’s right up there with some of the best seasons of all time. I go back to the context of the season, and the more I look at it, the more I understand that it was a great season.”
Maris’ home run record isn’t the only milestone Judge is chasing.
Judge’s batting average before Wednesday was .316, a point higher than the Red Sox shortstop. Xander Bogaerts and two on the Minnesota Twins first baseman, Luis Arraez. Judge, who is all but assured of the league lead in home runs and RBIs (127), has a chance to become the 11th player to win the Triple Crown since RBIs became official in 1920.
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Judge hits HR 61 and ties Roger Maris’ American League record