The same men credited for saving baseball are the same ones that have tainted an entire era of the game, and the reason is Roger Maris. Jr. believes that Aaron Judge is baseball’s actual single-season home run record holder now that he hit home run No. 62 on Tuesday night.
Barry Bonds holds the single-season record after he hit 73 in 2001 and Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa both broke Maris’ record in 1998, but all three players’ careers have been marred by their use of performance-enhancing drugs. That includes a black mark on their historic feats and what led Maris Jr. to make the comments on when Judge hit his 61st home run of the year, to match Maris’ record he set in 1961, and doubled down on it on Twitter following the 62nd home run.
“Congratulations to Aaron Judge and his family on Aaron’s historic home run number 62!,” Maris Jr. wrote on the social media platform. “It has definitely been a baseball season to remember. You are all class and someone who should be revered. For the MAJORITY of the fans, we can now celebrate a new CLEAN HOME RUN KING!!”
Maris’ original record had been surpassed several times in the late 90s and early 2000s. Sosa had hit more than 61 home runs on three occasions, McGuire did it twice and Bonds did it once when he set the current record.
However, it later came out that three had used performance-enhancing drugs. McGuire admitted to doing so, while Bonds and Sosa maintained that they hadn’t knowingly used them.
“I think it means a lot, not just for me. I think it means a lot for a lot of people,” Maris Jr. said about Judge last week in Toronto. “That he’s clean, he’s a Yankee, he plays the game the right way. I think it gives people a chance to look and somebody who should be revered for hitting 62 home runs and not just a guy who did it in the American League. He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ. I mean, that’s really who he is if he hits 62, and I think that’s what needs to happen.
“I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.”
When he was asked if he considered Bonds’ home run record illegitimate, Maris Jr. replied: “I do, I think most people do.”
The debate over the legitimacy of the accomplishments of the three sluggers has long been bantered about since the revolution of baseball’s worst-kept secret led to hearings on Capitol Hill in the mid-2000s. Judge’s success this season and chase for 62 has only reignited that debate even further.
What isn’t in dispute is where Judge’s home run feat now stands in American League and Yankees history and the place he holds there now.
“I can’t think of anybody better that baseball can look up to than Aaron Judge,” Maris Jr. said.
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