New York Yankees slugger, Aaron Judge, has cemented his name in the record books of Major League Baseball, with his 61st home run of the season.
The hit ties Roger Maris' American League single season home run record set over 60 years ago. It took Maris until the final game of the 1961 season to break Babe Ruth's single-season mark of 60 home runs set in 1927. As you can tell, these records are few and far between.
Coming off of a seven game home-run drought - since clocking a solo shot into the stands during a 6-0 blowout at Yankee Stadium - Judge headed to Toronto, looking to make history at the Rogers Centre. The Yankees hitter succeeded, as he broke the drought by smashing his 61st HR in the seventh inning of the Yankees 8-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.
It's an incredible honor, getting a chance to be associated with one of the Yankee greats, one of baseball's greats, words can't describe it. That's one thing so special about the Yankees organization, 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 honor that's for sure.
Roger Maris Jr had been trying to catch the historic moment by attending nine of the Yankees most recent games. He was joined by Judge's mother in the stands to watch the New York star tie his father's long-standing record:
Mom and Maris Jr. react to 61 💙 pic.twitter.com/3jSfiqF0Tc— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 29, 2022
This isn't the first time Maris Jr has watched someone match the record. In the past, he has seen Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds all hit 61 home runs between 1998-2001. However, many of these successes are tainted by the era of steroid use that hangs a heavy cloud over their achievements. Despite all three players being inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame, McGwire admitted to use of performance enhancing drugs, while Sosa and Bonds both experienced many accusations.
Maris Jr believes that Judge should be viewed as the "actual single-season home run champ" as he hit 61 without the use of steroids or other performance enhancers.
Judge is having a hell of a season - hitting MVP-calibre numbers while he chases the Triple Crown - and Maris has been waiting for him to top it all off by tying and potentially breaking the record.
I asked him why he waited so long to kinda make me travel around the country. The ironic thing was it was the ninth day I’ve been here [watching Judge]. He wears 99, dad wears 9. This is kinda weird how it all went together. Now we’ll probably go to Yankee Stadium and hit 62 on Oct. 1 when dad hit his 61st.
Roger Maris Jr
There is some even stranger symmetry, as Judge hits his 61st HR 61 years after Roger Maris first set the record. Here is the new AL single-season home run leaderboard:
Aaron Judge, 2022 Yankees: 61 and counting
Roger Maris, 1961 Yankees: 61
Babe Ruth, 1927 Yankees: 60
Babe Ruth, 1921 Yankees: 59
Jimmie Foxx, 1931 Athletics: 58
Hank Greenberg, 1938 Tigers: 58
New York still have seven regular season games left this year, so there's a good chance Judge will add to his record and break the tie with Maris. He's already hit seven home runs in a seven-game span this season.
All of this great news comes with a very unfortunate twist for one Blue Jays fan in the stands that night, who had a shot at catching the home run ball. Making this grab would probably have secured early retirement...
Buddy is SICK about dropping Judge’s 61st HR pic.twitter.com/nMruI1UxEK— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) September 29, 2022
The executive chairman and founder of Goldin Auctions, Ken Goldin, has since predicted that Judge's 61st home run ball would be worth anywhere between $250,000 and $350,000, while the 62nd could be worth an astonishing $750,000 to $1.25 million.
Some lucky spectator could be catching quite a nice break if Judge swings the ball their way. Depending on how far the young superstar goes, we could be seeing some truly ridiculous numbers if the balls ever go to auction. Bear in mind that McGwire's 70th home run ball was sold for $3 million dollars, after the fan rejected offerings for a signed bat, ball and jersey from the club.
Judge's record-tying ball made its way safely back into the ground and into Yankee hands. Judge then gifted it to his mother who was in attendance - I can't imagine this one will make its way to auction.