Aaron Judge hits 62nd home run, breaking Roger Maris' American League and Yankees record
ARLINGTON, Texas — There was a gasp, a moment of silence, and an explosion of exhilaration Tuesday evening, reverberating deep in the heart of Texas.
New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge homered over the left-field wall off Texas Rangers pitcher Jesus Tinoco, and at 7:08 p.m. CT, became the American League home run king with his 62nd home run of the season, surpassing former Yankee Roger Maris’ record set 61 years ago in 1961.
The Yankee players poured out of the dugout to greet Judge at home plate, the Rangers stood in awe, and the sellout crowd of 38,832 cheered until their lungs burned.
Judge validated his legacy, producing one of the greatest seasons in baseball history, joining the Mount Rushmore of greatest single-season home run hitters: Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and now Judge.
Judge, who was on a pace to hit his record-setting homer two weeks ago, had struggled of late, hitting just one homer in the past 13 games, spanning 58 plate appearances. He hit .200 with a double, homer, 17 walks and 13 strikeouts since tying Babe Ruth with his 60th homer.
Remember where you were when #AaronJudge made history. 6️⃣2️⃣ #AllRise pic.twitter.com/w4kbDJf5ZC
— MLB (@MLB) October 5, 2022
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“He's gotten some pitches to hit here the last couple days,’’ Aaron Boone said, “and in general he's gotten a good swing off and fouled it off. That’s usually that fine line difference between when you're really rolling or you're just a tick off. I think he's gotten some pitches, but instead of really sticking them like he has 61 times, he's fouled some balls off. But I don't think he's far off.’’
When Judge rounded the bases, he broke into a grin, enjoying the moment. He chased history for months. Now, the stress was over.
History was made.
The only time Judge appeared frustrated during the entire home run chase was when he slammed his helmet down in the dugout after hitting a pop-up on an 84-mph slider by Rangers starter Jon Gray in the first game of the doubleheader. The Rangers challenged him throughout the game, but Judge managed just one single in five at-bats, lowering his batting average to .310.
Congratulations to Aaron Judge and his family on Aaron’s historic home run number 62! It has definitely been a baseball season to remember. You are all class and someone who should be revered. For the MAJORITY of the fans, we can now celebrate a new CLEAN HOME RUN KING!!
— Roger Maris Jr (@RogerMarisJr) October 5, 2022
“I mean, I’m sure he wants to hit it,’’ Boone said, “but it hasn’t been much different from what I hear or see out of him, frankly, throughout the year.’’
The only ones more upset were the fans, comically booing Judge after his eighth-inning single up the middle in the first game and booing him after grounding out to end the game.
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Now, Judge is hoping for more.
He’s still in the hunt to become only the second player in the last 55 years to win the Triple Crown, and the first Yankee since Mantle.
“A Triple Crown,’’ Judge said, “would be amazing.’’
Judge certainly will win the home run (leading by 23) and RBI titles (by 7), but trails Luis Arraez of the Minnesota Twins in batting average, .315 to .310. Judge’s batting average took a hit last weekend at Yankee Stadium when he went 1-for-7 with six strikeouts, five walks and a hit-by-pitch in 13 at-bats. He was just 2-for-9 in the first two games of the Rangers’ series, with Rangers GM Chris Young imploring his pitchers to challenge him.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Aaron Judge breaks Roger Maris' AL, Yankees home run record