Staff Writer: Kelsey Wink
On October 4th, New York Yankees outfielder, Aaron Judge broke the American League (AL) single-season homerun record by hitting his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night.
Judge broke the single-season American League record of 61, which was set 61 years earlier in 1961 by Roger Maris, also of the Yankees.
Judge’s record-breaking homer came in the first inning against the Texas Rangers pitcher, Jesus Tinoco. The leadoff shot to deep left field gave the Yankees an early 1-0 lead.
Aaron Judge’s historic 62nd home run Tuesday came with a bit of fanfare, which included an eager fan jumping over the railing at Arlington, Texas’ Globe Life Field in a vain effort to catch the prized ball.
The unnamed fan missed out, however, while another fan, Cory Youmans, a Texas Rangers fan, was able to catch it by staying on the safe side of the railing. Sports Illustrated has reported that Memory Lane auctions have already offered $2 million for the ball.
The Yankees’ dugout emptied as Judge rounded the bases, and his teammates and coaches were waiting for him as he crossed home plate. A brief on-field celebration ensued before play resumed.
One inning later, with the game tied at 1, Judge struck out to end the top of the second. Yankees manager Aaron Boone then removed him from the game, ending Judge’s historic night.
While Judge sits atop the American League, he has the seventh most home runs in a single season in MLB history, with three other players from the National League remaining ahead of him. Next up is Sammy Sosa, who hit 63 in 1999 and then 64 in 2001, good for sixth and fifth place all time. Mark McGwire hit 65 in 1999, and Sosa came up again in third place with 66 home runs in the 1998 season.
As the Yankees’ regular season concluded on October 5th, it was virtually impossible for Judge to challenge Mark McGwire’s epic 70 home runs set in 1998 and the all-time record held by Barry Bonds, who hit 73 dingers in 2001.
Judge could have never broken Bond’s all-time single-season home run record with having one game left in his regular season — he’s the American League home run king.
Be that as it may, that’s not enough for some people.
They want Judge recognized as baseball’s single-season champion because his 62 were the most since the end of baseball’s steroid era.
Leading the charge is Roger Maris Jr., whose father set the AL record in 1961 before Judge broke it.
“For the majority of fans, we can now celebrate a new clean home run king,” Maris Jr. wrote on Twitter.
Maris Jr. followed with this a day later on Twitter: “All the young kids who watched Aaron Judge set the single-season record for home runs … you finally have someone to revere! No more trying to explain to you how someone could possibly hit 73 home runs.”
From 1998-2001, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa combined for six seasons with 63 or more dingers. Bonds hit 73 home runs in 2001 to set what MLB recognizes as the record.
Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa clearly benefited from performance-enhancing drugs and their outrageous home run totals led baseball — under pressure from Congress — to start a testing program in 2004.
The home run debate is still ongoing as controversy remains over baseball’s steroid era and the legitimacy of whether some players were capable of hitting all those home runs in a single season without performance enhancement.
So now one question remains: Who is really the home run king?