Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, breaking Roger Maris’ American League record and setting what some fans consider baseball’s « clean » standard.
The 30-year-old Yankees slugger drove a 1-1 slider from Texas right-hander Jesus Tinoco into the front two rows of seats in left field in Game 2 of New York’s day-night doubleheader.
Maris’ 61 for the Yankees in 1961 had been topped six times before, but all were marred by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year. Barry Bonds broke an MLB record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001, and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season stretch from 1998.
McGwire admitted to using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball began testing penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans — perhaps many — have so far viewed Maris as the rightful record holder.
A Ruthian figure with a smile as outsized as his body, the 6ft 7in judge rocked the major leagues with a series of deep workouts that listen to the sepia film reels of his legendary pinstripe predecessors.
Judge has only one home run in the last 13 games, and that’s when he reached No. 61 last Wednesday in Toronto. The last drink in Texas doubles was its 55th straight game played since Aug. 5.
After a single-for-five at-bat in Tuesday’s opener, Judge was 3-for-17 with five walks and one hit per pitch since surpassing the 60 home runs by Babe Ruth in 1927, which was the record of the major league for 34 years. Maris hit his 61st against Boston’s Tracy Stallard at Old Yankee Stadium on October 1, 1961.
The home run on his first at bat took him down to .311, where he started the day before before dropping a run in Game 1.
The judge’s accomplishment will cause endless debate.
“For me, the single-season home run record holder is Roger Maris,” author George Will said earlier this month. « There’s no suspicion that we’re seeing better baseball than better chemistry in Judge’s case. He’s clean. He doesn’t do anything that makes other players put their health at risk. »
WATCH | The judge equals Maris’ record: