61! Judge ties Maris for all-time AL HR record

Sep 29, 2022

TORONTO — Two slugging right fielders taking their swings in Yankees uniforms 61 years apart, one assigned No. 9 and the other sporting a super-sized No. 99. Roger Maris and Aaron Judge are forever linked as legends of this storied franchise, now the only men in its history to hit 61 home runs in a single season.

Judge equaled Maris’ single-season American League home run record with a two-run blast off reliever Tim Mayza on Wednesday, a tiebreaking seventh-inning rocket that helped propel the Yankees to an 8-3 victory over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

“It’s an incredible honor to get a chance to be associated with one of the Yankee greats, one of the baseball greats,” Judge said. “To be enshrined with them forever, words can’t describe it. That’s one thing that’s so special about the Yankee organization, all the guys that came before us and paved the way, played the game the right way.”

Every Aaron Judge home run of 2022
Judge did not hesitate after connecting with Mayza’s full-count, belt-high sinker, dropping his bat and taking quick steps out of the box as he tracked the flight of his 117.4 mph drive, which took only 3.8 seconds to land a Statcast-projected 394 feet from home plate. It was Judge’s hardest-hit homer of the season.

The coveted ball — said to be worth as much as $2 million, by one estimate — was nearly caught by two fans seated in the front row of Section 137, which overlooks Toronto’s bullpen. The ball smacked into a wall just below them and came to a stop near the bullpen mound, where it was retrieved by pitching coach Matt Buschmann and passed along to Toronto closer Jordan Romano.

Reliever Zack Britton brokered an in-game exchange of the baseball for Judge, who presented it to his mother, Patty.

“She’s been with me through it all,” Judge said. “From the Little League days, getting me ready for school, taking me to my first couple of practices and games, being there for my first professional game, my debut and now getting a chance to be here for this — this is something special, and we’re not done yet.”

The Yankees spilled out of the dugout to congratulate Judge after the home run, which came in his 35th plate appearance since slugging No. 60 on Sept. 20 off the Pirates’ Wil Crowe at Yankee Stadium. That blast was witnessed by Roger Maris Jr., who packed a passport to be in attendance for No. 61.