MLB commish Rob Manfred says baseball fans should make ‘own judgment’ on home run record

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Aaron Judge
AP Photo/LM Otero

Aaron Judge’s 62-home run season has reignited the heated debate over who is baseball’s true home run king, but MLB commissioner Rob Manfred ultimately said it should be up to baseball’s fans to decide how they view the record. 

Barry Bonds hold the major league record for most home runs in a single season with 73, but his accomplishment has been marred by his connection to performance-enhancing drugs. As have the careers of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, who both broke Roger Maris’ home run record of 61 during the home run chase of 1998. 

Judge’s 62 home runs this season set a new Yankees and American League record, but led to some calling for Judge to be proclaimed the true holder of baseball’s home run record. That included Maris’ son Roger Maris Jr. during a press conference in Toronto after Judge tied Maris’ record.

Manfred tried to take a more diplomatic approach when it was brought up during an interview on ESPN’s Get Up

“Well the record books say what they say,” Manfred said. “I think over the history of the game there have been different eras. The ball performed differently, the equipment was different and I think the best way to handle it is let fans make their own judgment as to what records are most significant to them.”

When host Greenberg broached the idea of indicating the certain footnotes that go along with when the record was set, Manfred said that there had been so many “different variables” across baseball’s long history.

“There was a period of time when the ball was different. There was a period of time when obviously we had steroid use,” he explained. “I think in effect people do that already. That when they look at the numbers they look at the numbers and make a judgment based on the era in which those numbers were achieved.”

When pressed again on the issue, Manfred added that he felt baseball’s fans understand the historical context in which records were set.

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Judge broke Maris’ home run record on Tuesday night in the second game of a doubleheader with the Texas Rangers. It ended weeks of anticipation for baseball fans who had been watching to see when the Yankees slugger would hit the record-setting home run. 

“I was thrilled for our fans,” Manfred said. “It was something that everyone was anticipating. I’m thrilled for Aaron. It’s a monumental achievement and I think it’s one that will stand the test of time.”