TORONTO — New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge hit his 61st home run Wednesday, tying Roger Maris’ single-season American League home run record set in 1961.
Judge crushed the record-tying home run in the seventh inning off Toronto Blue Jays’ Tim Mayza, sending it over the wall at Rogers Centre.
The 30-year-old had already matched Babe Ruth’s total from over 90 years ago and could still surpass Maris’ 61-year-old record, sealing his spot among the all-time batting greats.
After the game, when speaking to the YES Network, Judge said it was “tough to describe” how he was feeling being able to share the achievement with his teammates. He added that it meant a lot to have his mother in attendance.
“I’m nothing without my family,” Judge said. “They mean the world to me. They’re the reason I’m here, the reason why I’m the person I am and getting to share this moment with my mom and also trying to give a little nod to Roger Maris Jr., it means a lot.”
Judge is the sixth player in major league history to hit at least 60 home runs in a single season, but downplayed his record-setting season.
“I haven’t really been thinking about numbers or stats and stuff like that,” he told reporters. “I’m going out there trying to help my team win.”
After hitting his 394-foot home run, Judge received a standing ovation from the Toronto crowd and was greeted by teammates as he touched home plate.
The Yankees, crowned AL East champions on Tuesday, went on to defeat the Blue Jays 8-3. Judge’s next chance to break the record will come on Friday when the Yankees host the Baltimore Orioles.
“I keep saying over and over, Aaron Judge; everyone should just watch and take notice,” Yankees head coach Aaron Boone said last week after Judge hit his 60th home run. “I can say this because I’ve lived this, and he’s shown this: he puts his focus on being a great teammate and winning. He knows everything else will take care of itself.”
With seven regular season games remaining, Judge is unlikely to reach the major league single-season record of 73 home runs.
But many have brushed the record aside because it’s currently held by Barry Bonds who — along with other players of that era — was embroiled in performance-enhancing drug scandals and allegedly used steroids. Bonds and Sammy Sosa have denied those allegations.
Judge disagrees, telling Sports Illustrated recently that “73 is the record In my book.” But Maris’ son, Roger Maris Jr., said on Wednesday that Judge should be “revered for being the actual single-season home run champ. That’s really who he is if he hits 62.”
“It means a lot not just for me, it means a lot for a lot of people that he’s clean, he’s a Yankee, he plays the game the right way … Baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something,” Maris Jr. told the YES Network.
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