New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge says it’s an honour to make franchise and American League history after matching Roger Maris’ long-held single-season home run record with his 61st blast in 2022.
Judge homered in the seventh inning of the Yankees’ 8-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, tying with Maris’ mark set in 1961.
The blast also moved Judge clear of Babe Ruth’s 60 home run milestone from 1927.
“It’s an incredible honour, getting a chance to be associated with one of the Yankee greats, one of baseball’s greats, words can’t describe it,” Judge said.
“That’s one thing so special about the Yankees organisation, is all the guys that came before us and kind of paved the way and played the game the right way, did things the right way, did a lot of great things in this game and getting a chance to be mentioned with those guys now is, I can’t even describe it, it’s an incredible honour that’s for sure.”
Judge’s record-equalling homer comes with seven games remaining the regular season too, although Barry Bonds’ MLB-best record of 73 seems out of reach.
The Yankees superstar is behind only Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa for single-season home runs, although all three of those players achieved that during the steroid era from 1999 to 2001.
There has been plenty of discussion around that, with Judge seen as “clean”, even if he says Bonds is the “greatest hitter of all time”. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Judge’s feat was the best.
“I think it puts it a notch above,” Boone said last week. “I got to believe it’s right there with some of the best very short list of all-time seasons.
“I go back to the context of the season, and the more I look at it and dive into it, it’s got to be an all-time great season.”
Judge had endured seven homerless games before achieving the milestone, along with 31 consecutive plate appearances without a blast.