Yankees’ Judge hits 61st homer, ties Maris’ record
9: 28 PM ET
Marly RiveraESPN Writer
- Marly Rivera is a writer for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.
TORONTO — New York Yankees star Aaron Judge hit his 61st home run of the season Wednesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays, tying Roger Maris’ American League record.
It took Maris until Oct. 1, the final game of the 1961 season, to hit his 61st, which broke Babe Ruth’s single-season mark of 60 home runs set in 1927.
Judge did it Sept. 28, in Game No. 155 for New York. A day after the Yankees clinched the American League East title, Judge, batting leadoff as the designated hitter, took Toronto’s Tim Mayza deep in the seventh inning with a runner on base. Judge, who walked in his first at bat, popped out in the second, and grounded out in the third — had gone seven games with no home runs since he managed a solo shot during New York’s 6-0 homestand.
He then traveled to Toronto with the Yankees to make history at Rogers Centre. He went 1-for-3 with a single in the series opener Monday and walked four times in Tuesday’s division clincher, before ultimately launching the historic shot Wednesday in the Yankees’ 8-3 victory. His teammates were there to greet him after he had finished batting.
“It was an incredible honor to be associated with one the Yankee greats, one baseball’s greatests, words just can’t explain it,” Judge said. Judge said, “That’s what makes the Yankees so special, is all those guys who paved the way and played this game the right way. They did a lot of great stuff in this game. It’s incredible to get a chance now to be mentioned with them. “
Home-plate umpire Brian O’Nora congratulated Judge and gave him the official lineup card for the night.
Judge stated that he wasn’t sure if the ball would be a homer, or an out when he hit it. He said that he felt relief when the ball crossed the fence.
” Getting a chance at Roger Maris,” Judge stated, “You dream about this kind of stuff, and it’s impossible to imagine.” The seven-game drought that saw no home runs was rare for those few who have reached such highs. Of the previous seven instances in which a player hit 61 home runs, four had reached that mark the next game after hitting 60 and none went more than three games to reach the milestone.
Judge finally reached the milestone in the series finale with Roger Maris Jr., Mark McGwire, and Judge’s mother Patty sitting in front of the Yankees dugout. And now, the only players in MLB history with more home runs in a season are Barry Bonds (73), Mark McGwire (70, 65) and Sammy Sosa (66, 64, 63) — all of whom accomplished theirs during the steroid era (1998 to 2001). It felt like we were alone. It was just a really good moment of togetherness,” Yankees starter Gerrit Cole said, describing the celebration. We are all proud of him and know how hard he works. He wants to keep things low-key, but he is well deserving. “
Maris Jr. announced in a postgame conference that he will return to Yankee Stadium as Judge swings for No. 62.
” “I don’t think it will take very long,” he stated. “I think he’s free. I believe he was more relaxed after the party, the celebration. … It’s obvious that he’s back and ready to go. “
Judge’s 2022 tear has been done with zero evidence of performance-enhancing drugs used by the Yankees slugger, which manager Aaron Boone believes puts the All-Star outfielder’s numbers beyond those recorded by the others.
” “I think it puts them a notch above,” Boone stated last week. It’s up there with some of my favorite seasons, but it’s not on a short list. It’s a great season. I think back to the context. “
Maris Jr. concurred.
“He’s clean. He is a Yankee. Maris Jr. said that he plays the game the right manner. He gives people the chance to see someone who should be respected. “
At one point, Judge’s torrid home run pace matched that of Bonds’ 2001 record-setting season, but with less than two weeks left of games, it will take a formidable surge for him now to approach that mark.
Maris’ 61 is considered by many to be the “clean” home run record. Judge, a Northern California native, has called Bonds “the greatest batter of all time” but does not diminish his achievements.
“That’s it,” said Judge, a graduate of Linden High School in San Joaquin County. It is located about an hour east of San Francisco Bay. “I watched him do it. “I stayed up until midnight watching him do it. That’s the record. He can’t take it from anyone. “
Bonds, for his part, said over the weekend that he could see Judge going on a home run streak after connecting on his 61st. “Trying to get to that 61 is the hardest one,” Bonds said on the KayRod Cast on ESPN2 during Sunday Night Baseball. Trying to get there. He’ll probably hit five or six consecutive times once he does. But trying to get to there, that’s the hardest one, that 61 is going to be the hardest. It’s a big moment on 61. “
The Yankees hope for more big moments next month. New York appears to be the AL’s No. 1, despite appearing at times as if it had run away from the American League pack. 2 postseason seed behind the Houston Astros. The division title was New York’s first since 2019, and 20th overall in franchise history.
Judge was a major reason for the crown. It’s more than home runs. He entered Wednesday’s action leading the AL in batting average, home runs and RBIs as he looks to become the third Yankees player to win the Triple Crown (Lou Gehrig in 1934, Mickey Mantle in 1956).
“He is as beloved as they are,” Boone stated. Aaron is so excited that everyone is. Everyone feels a part of it because Aaron is the way he truly is. That’s what he is as a teammate. “
Judge scored a homer to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead. They then took a 6-3 advantage into the bottom of the ninth inning. After the ball bounded into Toronto’s bullpen, Matt Buschmann, Blue Jays bullpen coach, was able to retrieve it.
” This is quite amazing, setting up now in the Bronx for an incredible atmosphere,” Boone stated. “It’s been an excellent script so far. “
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.