by Blythe Hastings ’23
League single-season home run king. On a Tuesday evening last week, New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge swatted his 62nd home run of 2022, breaking a tie with Roger Maris. Maris, 61 years ago, hit 61 homers with the 1961 Yankees. Judge hit his 62nd homer against Texas Rangers righty Jesus Tinoco in the first inning of Game 2 of their doubleheader at Globe Life Field in Arlington. “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.” Judge hit his 61st home run to tie Maris last Wednesday, and he went 3 for 17 with five walks and seven strikeouts in the five games between home runs 61 and 62. That includes going 1 for 5 in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, during which Judge slammed his helmet in frustration in the dugout after popping up a hanging slider. The No. 62 ball landed in Section 31, Row 1, Seat 3, and the fan who caught it was led by security to a safe location where it could be authenticated by MLB. It’s unclear whether the ball will be turned over to the Yankees and Judge or if something else will happen. Judge’s mother, Patty, has attended every Yankees game since her son hit his 59th home run on September 18th. She went from Yankee Stadium to Toronto, back to Yankee Stadium, then to Texas for this final regular season series. When Judge hit the milestone homer Tuesday, his mother was left speechless. Not at the ballpark Tuesday, Roger Maris Jr., the predecessor’s son, did not travel to Texas to watch Judge chase his 62nd homer, though he did attend New York’s previous 12 games as Judge chased home runs No. 60 and 61 (and 62). For what it’s worth, Maris Jr. has not been shy about saying that he would consider Judge the “clean” home run king once he hit No. 62. As noted, Judge has now hit more home runs than any player in the American League’s 122-year history. Only Barry Bonds (73 in 2001), Mark McGwire (70 in 1998 and 65 in 1999), and Sammy Sosa (66 in 1998, 64 in 2001 and 63 in 1999) have hit more home runs in a season than Judge, and they all played in the National League. As for 2022, Judge is lapping the field in home runs. Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber is a distant second in baseball with 46 homers. No player has led baseball by as many as 16 home runs since 1932, when Foxx hit 58 and Ruth was the runner-up with 41. Simply put, this is one of the most dominant home run seasons in the history of the sport. Judge was removed from Tuesday’s game in the bottom of the second inning. He had started 55 consecutive games, a Ripkenian streak by the standards of the Yankees and their load management approach, and manager Aaron Boone recently said he hoped to give Judge a day off before the end of the season. He was even noncommittal about playing him in Game 2 of the doubleheader before Judge landed in the lineup. The Yankees do have one game remaining, however, and Judge could pad his home run total in the season finale Wednesday. The Rangers are scheduled to start righty Glenn Otto, a former Yankees prospect who went to Texas in the Joey Gallo trade, in Wednesday’s game. Judge is 0 for 3 against Otto in his career.
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