New York Yankees star Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday, breaking the single-season American League record of 61 which was set 61 years earlier in 1961 by Roger Maris, also of the Yankees.
Judge’s record-breaking homer came in the first inning against the Texas Rangers’ Jesus Tinoco. The leadoff shot to deep left field gave the Yankees an early 1-0 lead. One inning later, with the game tied at 1, Judge struck out to end the top of the second. Yankees manager Aaron Boone then removed him from the game, ending Judge’s night.
The normally reserved All-Star had recently begun to show signs of frustration as he failed to break the record for several games, going 1-5 in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. After earlier in the year being on pace to shatter the record, Judge stalled at 60, and then again at 61. All that time, other sports networks were breaking into their normal programming to show Judge’s at-bats, waiting for the record-breaker.
Judgeof the season last Wednesday night to tie the record, after being stuck at 60 home runs for over a week. In the 7th inning, facing Toronto Blue Jays reliever Tim Mayza, Judge launched a bullet line drive over the left field fence of the Rogers Center. The ball bounced off the front wall of the spectator seats and landed in the Blue Jays’ bullpen, where it was retrieved by Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann. The two-run blast gave the Yankees a 5-3 lead and moved Judge past Babe Ruth, who hit 60 home runs for the Yankees in 1927.
Judge’s parents were in attendance to witness the record-breaking home run. The Maris family did not travel to Texas to see the milestone.
Judge’s mother and one of Maris’ sons, Roger Maris Jr., made the trip to Canada last week to see the record-tying home run. Judge’s mother, father and wife and Maris’ sons and daughter had attended every game of the previous series against the Boston Red Sox in the Bronx, but Judge failed to hit a home run during the four-game sweep, which was shortened by a rainout in the sixth inning of Sunday night’s game — denying the slugger at least one additional plate appearance.
The Maris family was also on hand to see Judge tie Ruth’s mark on September 20.
While Judge now sits atop the American League, he has the seventh most home runs in a single season in MLB history, with three other players from the National League remaining ahead of him. Next up is Sammy Sosa, who hit 63 in 1999 and then 64 in 2001, good for sixth and fifth place all time. Mark McGwire hit 65 in 1999, and Sosa comes up again in third place with 66 home runs in the 1998 season.
With just one more game, after Tuesday, left to play for the Yankees this season, it’s virtually impossible for Judge to challenge Mark McGwire’s epic 70 home runs set in 1998 and the all-time record held by Barry Bonds, who hit 73 dingers in 2001.
Judge is also vying for the American League triple crown, when a player ends the season with the most home runs, runs batted in (RBI), and the highest batting average in their respective league.
The slugger has an insurmountable lead in the home runs category. Going into Tuesday night’s game, Judge also had the most RBIs, 130, and a batting average of .310, which was second in the American League to Minnesota Twins utility man Luis Arraez, who started the day with a .315 batting average. The Boston Red Sox’s Xander Bogaerts trailed both at .305.
Another bit of history was also made Tuesday night, as pitcher Gerrit Cole got his 249th strikeout of the season, breaking the Yankees’ single-season record set by Ron Guidry in 1978.