New York Yankees starter Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season on Tuesday, breaking the American League single-season record of 61 set 61 years earlier in 1961 by Roger Maris, also of the Yankees.
Judge’s record-breaking homer came in the first inning against Jesus Tinoco of the Texas Rangers. The first shot to deep left field gave the Yankees an early 1-0 lead.
The regular All-Star had recently begun to show signs of frustration as he failed to break the streak for several games, going 1-5 in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. After earlier in the year he was on pace to break the record, Judge stopped at 60 and then again at 61. All the while, other sports networks entered their regular schedule to show Judge’s at-bats, waiting for the record-breaking cascade .
Judge hit his 61st homer of the season last Wednesday night to tie the record after being stuck at 60 home runs for over a week. In the 7th inning, facing Toronto Blue Jays reliever Tim Mayza, Judge blasted a walk over the Rogers Center left field fence. The ball bounced off the front wall of the spectator seats and landed in the Blue Jays bullpen, where it was retrieved by Jays bullpen manager Matt Buschmann. The two-run blast gave the Yankees a 5-3 lead and moved Judge past Babe Ruth, who hit 60 for the Yankees in 1927.
Judge’s parents were on hand to watch the record at home. The Maris family didn’t travel to Texas to see the landmark.
Judge’s mother and one of Maris’ sons, Roger Maris Jr., made the trip to Canada last week to see the record at home. Judge’s mother, father and wife and sons and daughter Maris had attended every game of the previous series against the Boston Red Sox in the Bronx, but Judge failed to hit a home run during the four-game sweep, which was cut short by a downpour. in the sixth inning of Sunday night’s game — denying the slugger at least one more plate appearance.
The Maris family was also on hand to see Judge tie on Ruth’s badge on September 20.
While Judge is now atop the American League, he has the seventh-longest single-season home run streak in MLB history, with three other National Leaguers still ahead of him. Next is Sammy Sosa, who hit 63 in 1999 and then 64 in 2001, good for sixth and fifth all-time. Mark McGwire hit 65 in 1999 and Sosa tied for third again with 66 home runs in the 1998 season.
With one more game after Tuesday left to play for the Yankees this season, it’s nearly impossible for Judge to challenge Mark McGwire’s epic 70 home runs hit in 1998 and the all-time record held by Barry Bonds, who hit 73 dingers in 2001;
Judge is also in contention for the American League triple crown, when a player finishes the season with the most home runs, runs batted in (RBI) and the highest batting average in the respective league.
The slugger has an insurmountable lead in the home runs category. Going into Tuesday night’s game, Judge also had the most RBIs, 130, and a .310 batting average, which was second in the American League behind Luis Arraez, who started the day with a .315 batting average. Xander Bogaerts of the Boston Red Sox trailed both at .305.