New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hit his record-breaking 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, distancing himself from a tie with fellow pinstriper Roger Maris and becoming the third New York Yankee to hold the distinction of hitting the most home runs in a season in the American League.
Since hitting his 60th home run a few weeks ago, Judge entered an understandable slump. He was hitting a mere 9-for-39 at the plate with fifteen strikeouts and just a single homerun. Admittedly, the pressure was mounting. And as Maris acknowledged in 1961, the chase is at once exhausting and exhilarating.
When Babe Ruth set a new league record with his 60th home run of the 1927 season, the bombastic Bambino had thumped his chest, challenging the world to match that staggering total. An exhausted Roger Maris edged “The Babe” on the last day of the 1961 season, later expressing a feeling of “exultation” that the chase was over.
Sixty-one years after Maris captivated the baseball world with his pursuit of Ruth’s beloved record, Aaron Judge now stands alone as the American League’s single-season home run king. Three Yankees right fielders across three eras of baseball history, all having experienced the thrills of chasing a magnificent mark.
Here is footage from near the dugout on Judge’s first at-bat of the second game of a doubleheader that catapulted him into the record books:
This video is fucking electricpic.twitter.com/6dob69NCwh
— NYY Commenter (@NYYCommenter) October 5, 2022
After the game, Judge reflected on the moment.
“I tried to enjoy every single moment,” he said. “I didn’t think about, ‘Hey, they’re all on their feet to see you hit a home run.’ I tried to think about, ‘Hey, they’re here to see an exciting ballgame and see something special.’ Having that mindset helped me stay pretty calm, but there was definitely a little pressure in there.”
Judge added: “I had a good feeling off the bat. I just didn’t know where it was going to land or what it was going to hit. There was a good sense of relief once I saw it in that fan’s glove.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone was also interviewed, saying:
“Just an all-time great season,” he said. “He’s been the leader of this team, for a division-winning team, one for which he’s gotten big hit after big hit. I think it’s a historically great season, and one we’ll talk about when we’re long gone.”
Though no doubt thrilled with the accomplishment – and commensurate relief that accompanies it – Judge nevertheless felt a twinge of regret at not hitting the record homer in front of a home crowd. Still, the away stadium crowd loves a record as much as anyone. As was seen in the video, there was no shortage of support for witnessing the event live.
“They were booing pitchers for throwing balls, which I’ve never seen before,” Judge said, with a chuckle. “I think I got a base hit the other night and I was getting booed for a single.”
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