Wednesday night, New York Yankees slugger and AL MVP favorite Aaron Judge slugged his 61st home run of the season to tie Roger Maris’ American League single-season record. Maris of course hit 61 home runs with the 1961 Yankees. The Yankees have seven games remaining, giving Judge plenty of time to hit No. 62 and claim the record outright.
Here is Judge’s milestone blast:
Roger Maris Jr. and other members of the Maris family have attended every Yankees game since Judge hit his 60th home run last Tuesday. He sat with Judge’s mother, Patty, during Wednesday’s game and then congratulated Judge personally after the game.
After the game, Maris Jr. spoke to reporters and said he considers 61 to be the “real” single-season home run record, adding he believes MLB should open the record books and do something about what he considers tainted home run totals. Here’s what Maris Jr. said:
“I think (Judge breaking the record) means a lot not just for me, but for a lot of people. He’s clean, he’s a Yankee, he plays the game the right way. I think he gives people a chance to look at somebody who should be revered for hitting 62 home runs and not just as a guy who did it in the American League. He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ. That’s really who he is if he hits 62 and I think that’s what needs to happen. I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.”
Maris Jr. also said, “I do, I think most people do,” when asked whether he considers records held by Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire to be illegitimate. After his career, McGwire admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds has never admitted to using PEDs nor did he ever test positive, though he has been strongly suspected of using banned substances.
For what it’s worth, Judge has said he considers 73 homers — Bonds’ total with the 2001 San Francisco Giants — to be the record, which of course it is. “73 is the record in my book. No matter what people want to say about that era of baseball, for me, they went out there and hit 73 homers and 70 homers, and that to me is what the record is,” Judge told Sports Illustrated earlier this month.
MLB has no interest in opening the record books and rewriting history after the fact. Also, I’m not sure how we could assume any player is clean. That’s just something we can’t ever know for certain. Maris Jr. wants 61 to be considered the record for obvious reasons. In the end, 73 is the record and will remain the record until someone hits 74.