Aaron Judge hits 61st home run of season, ties Roger Maris’ AL and Yankees single-season record – The Denver Post


TORONTO — Off the bat, everyone except Aaron Judge seemed to know. The Yankees slugger got a sinker that didn’t sink in the seventh inning of a tied game and just let it rip. He sprinted out of the box and watched it fly, a little uncertain at first. The line drive flew 394 feet over the left-field wall at Rogers Centre. Judge smiled, raised his hand and index finger in the air and exhaled with the rest of the baseball world.

Judge hit his 61st home run of the season Wednesday night, tying the 61-year-old American League record set by Roger Maris in 1961 in the Yankees’ 8-3 win over the Blue Jays in front of 37,008.

“I thought I got enough, but it’s been a couple of days since I did that,” Judge said with a self-deprecating laugh. “You never really know if it’s gonna get out or not and so I tried to sprint around the bases a little bit and then once it got over the fence … and then just relief that now we’re leading the game, because Gerrit [Cole] was pitching his butt off tonight.

“And then also to tie Roger Maris, that’s the stuff you dream, you think that’s not even real.”

Judge hammered the 3-2 sinker from Toronto lefty Tim Mayza into the Blue Jays bullpen. Toronto bullpen coach Matt Buschmann ended up with the historic ball and Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano took custody of it and made sure it was delivered to the Yankees.

After Judge crossed home plate, he hugged Aaron Hicks — who he had driven in with the homer — and Oswaldo Cabrera who was on deck. The rest of his teammates and coaches spilled onto the field and everyone got a hug from the slugger — from Luis Severino, who he came up through the minors with, to Harrison Bader, who just joined the active roster last week. 

As he walked off the field, Judge took off his batting helmet and pointed to the seats just above the Yankees’ first base dugout, where his mother Patty and Maris’ son were sitting next to one another. Patty — who had blown a kiss at her 30-year-old son as he rounded the bases — and Roger Maris Jr. hugged.

“He’s somebody who should be revered for hitting 61 home runs and not just as the guy who did it in the American League. But he should be remembered for being the actual single-season home run champ if he hits 62,” Maris said. “That’s who he really is. And I think that’s what needs to happen. I think baseball needs to look at these records and I think baseball should do something.”

Judge is just the fifth man in major league history to hit 61 home runs in a season, joining Barry Bonds (73 in 2001 with the Giants), Mark McGwire (70 in 1998 and 65 in 1999 with the Cardinals), Sammy Sosa (66 in 1998, 64 in 2001 and 63 in 1999 with the Cubs) and Maris in 1961 with the Yankees. Maris’ record is still seen as the high-water mark by some baseball purists, who discount Bonds, McGwire and Sosa because of the strong suspicion they did it while using performance enhancing drugs.

While Judge, who grew up watching the Giants and Bonds, considers Bonds’ 73 the MLB record, Maris’ 61 had become a weight on his shoulders.

“Definitely,” Judge said. “Definitely some relief getting to 61. Try not to think about it or let it creep into your head, but getting the chance to do it in a Yankee win, especially on a night where Gerrit Cole ties the all time, single-season strikeout [franchise] record, that’s pretty a special day right there.”

It had been seven games, eight days, since Judge had hit No. 60 and the eyes of the baseball world had focused on every pitch he saw. MLB had specially marked balls to make sure they could authenticate No. 61 and every one going forward. MLB Network and radio stations in New York broke into programming to air his every at-bat.

He had gone 34 plate appearances between hitting No. 60 on Sept. 20 against the Pirates and Wednesday night’s historic homer. That snapped the second-longest home run drought of Judge’s season, second only to the 41 plate appearances he went without a homer in August. During those seven games, 10 other Yankees homered, the Bombers went 6-1 and clinched the American League division title.

And Judge isn’t done.

“Getting the chance to be connected with a baseball legend and a great family, I can’t even describe it right now. It’s just such an honor what Maris did in this game, what type of person was. I’m gonna be linked with him forever, so it is a moment that I definitely will never forget,” Judge said. “I’ll definitely cherish it. Having my mom here supporting …. she’s been with me through it all, that’s for sure. From the Little League days, getting me ready for school, taking me to my first couple practices and games. You know, my first professional game, being there, my debut and now getting a chance to be here for this. This is so special.

“And we’re not done yet.”



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