On October 1, 1961, New York Yankee, Roger Maris, would blast a solo home run off of Tracy Stallard of the Boston Red Sox. This home run would be Maris’s 61st home run.
Why is Maris’s 61st home run significant? Well, at the time that he hit his home run, the Major League Baseball record for most home runs in a single season was 60. The former record holder was Yankee legend, Babe Ruth. Roger Maris would break Ruth’s record and hold it for 37 years until it was broken by Sammy Sosa in 1998. It has since been broken two more times after Sammy Sosa did it in 1998.
If his record already was broken by Sammy Sosa then what’s the importance? Yes, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds all surpassed Maris’s home run total of 61 but they all had two things in common, they all played in the National League and they may or may not have taken Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs). Roger Maris still has the home run record in the American League due to the fact the others who broke it were not in the American League. Maris also had the most home runs ever hit by a non-steroid-using player, up until Aaron Judge broke it.
The Judge’s Order
On September 28, 2022, in Toronto, Canada, with Roger Maris’s son in the stands, Aaron Judge hit a 117 MPH rocket of a home run to left field, tying Roger Maris’s American League home run record at 61 home runs.
On October 4th, 2022, in Arlington, Texas, Aaron Judge blasted a deep drive into left field to break Roger Maris’s American League home run record at 62 home runs. Judge’s teammates all crowded around home plate to greet the new American League home run king.
Why is Aaron Judge’s 61st home run significant? Aaron Judge is the first American League player since Roger Maris in 1961 to hit 61 home runs AND be totally clean of any PED. Only one person in the history of the American League has hit 61 home runs, and that is Roger Maris. Judge has become the second player to do so. The difference between Maris and Judge is just one homerun, Judge now has 62.
What does this mean for Aaron Judge’s career? Aaron Judge is having one of, if not the best offensive seasons that baseball has ever seen. He leads the American League in Home Runs, Runs Batted In, Walks, On Base Percentage, Slugging and On-Base Plus Slugging. We have never seen a season as dominant as Aaron Judge is this year. Judge is in his 6th full year in the majors and has proven to be a monster at the plate every season. Judge currently sits at 219 career home runs and 746 career hits. Saying Judge is a potential Hall of Famer in the future isn’t crazy, but, he is 30 years old and looking for a few more dominant seasons like this one under his belt to boost his resume. The rest of his career will be determined by how he bounces back after this season. This happens a lot in baseball, a player will have a breakout season then, the very next season they’ll flop.
Does this make Aaron Judge the league’s Most Valuable Player? No, not necessarily. With Judge’s dominant offensive season he still is not guaranteed the MVP award. The Angels' two-way monster of a player, Shohei Ohtani, is also in the MVP mix. The argument for Ohtani winning MVP is fairly strong considering he dominates the mound and the batter's box. Still, the question is, is it as strong of an argument as Judge’s historic offensive season?
What does Aaron Judge’s future look like? Just last offseason Judge rolled the dice on himself and declined a 7-year, $213.5M contract. This upcoming offseason Judge will be a free agent and will be looking for more money. Every team is going to go after the 6’7 slugger and he will have many options to choose from if he so wishes to leave the Yankees and play his career somewhere else.
If Aaron Judge just hit 62, what’s next? What happens next for Judge is really up to him. With the postseason looming and the record being broken he probably will not play the next 1-2 games of the season. Aaron Judge and the Yankees will look toward the playoffs and prepare themselves to possibly make a deep run and win a possible World Series.
Is there any other record Aaron Judge can break? The answer to this question really is up for debate. Judge could continue his historic season into the postseason and maybe break the record for most home runs in a single postseason, which is 10, held by Randy Arozarena. It’s virtually impossible for Judge to break the overall home run record of 73, held by Barry Bonds. Judge could bounce back next year and have an even more dominant season by hitting more than 62 home runs and possibly contest Barry Bond's single-season record.
Now that Aaron Judge has hit his 62nd home run, you shouldn’t have to worry about the TV cutting away when college football is on to show you Aaron Judge’s at-bats. Who knows if we will ever see a player so dominant that his at-bats interfered with a college football game again? Will ever see 62 home runs hit again? Or Barry Bond’s total of 73 broken? These are questions baseball fans wish they had the answers to, but only time knows the answer.