History finally matched: Aaron Judge ties Yankees legend Roger Maris with 61st home run

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Yankees Aaron Judge
New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge lines out to third as Toronto Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk watches during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Toronto.
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP

Roger Maris is no longer alone atop the leaderboard for home runs in a single season in Yankees and American League history. Aaron Judge joined the Yankee legend on Wednesday night after belting his 61st home run of the year, tying the record Maris set 61 years ago.

The historic home run came in the seventh inning of the series finally with the Toronto Blue Jays. The history-tying home run came on a 3-2 pitch that the superstar slugger sent sailing into the left field stands. Judge had taken center stage after the Yankees returned home from a five-game road trip last and the record-setting homer was clearly in sight. 

In a poetic scene, Aaron Judge’s mother, Patty, and Roger Maris’ son, Roger Maris Jr. were seen hugging in the front row of Roger Centre after the Yankees slugger hit the home run, according to the New York Post’s Jon Heyman. Members of the Maris family had been in attendance at Yankee games since last week’s homestand. 

Judge is now the second player in Yankees history to reach 61 homers and just the third to hit at least 60. Babe Ruth set the original home run record in 1927 when he hit 60 home runs and the milestone held until 1961 when Maris broke the “Sultan of Swat’s” record. 

Maris had legend set the record on Oct. 1, 1961, in a 1-0 win over the Boston Red Sox with rookie Tracy Stallard on the mound. 

The home run chase for Judge had become the focus of the Big Apple sports scene and had created a nightly buzz in the Bronx, especially when Judge stepped up to the plate. One of the more amazing things about the whole thing had been how quickly the crowd went from being boisterous to nearly dead silent when the pitch was delivered. 

“The baseball world and the people in attendance understand what they’re potentially witnessing and watching,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said last Friday about the phenomenon. “I think it’s simply that it’s everyone on the edge of their seat and all their focus and energy on it. And that’s shown up in silence for the 40-plus thousand people in that moment because you don’t want to miss something or you’re completely locked in and concentrating. 

“It’s interesting to witness and I think it’s something that will be very memorable for a lot of people.” 

He is now the fifth player in Major League Baseball history to hit at least 61 home runs in a single season, with Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire accomplishing the feat a combined five times. Barry Bonds currently holds the record for most home runs in a single season with 73, which he set during the 2001 season. 

However, Sosa, McGwire and Bonds’ records have been steeped in controversy due to their connection to baseball’s steroid era.

Judge’s play has captivated Yankees and baseball fans alike this season as he has at times carried New York’s offense on his back during the course of the year. Judge’s 61 home runs are 18 more than the second-best home run hitter in the league, Kyle Schwarber of the Philadelphia Phillies.

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At one point Judge had as much as a 21 home run lead on Schwarber, which marked the first time a hitter had paced the league in homers by that wide a margin since Jamie Foxx led the majors by 14 homers in 1933. 

Judge monster home run swing hasn’t been the only dominating factor for the slugger. He has slashed .314/.425/.693 this season and is in the running for the triple crown, an equally impressive feat in a year that has produced so much for Judge.