Image of Vaughn Ridley / Getty
New York Yankees superstar Aaron Judge made his 61st home game in a season, more than any Major League Baseball player in two decades and good enough to set the American League record set. established more than six decades ago.
The record-matching shot came from an all-win shot in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, which flew over the left fence.
Judge’s home run links the enduring AL record, set by Yankee Roger Maris in 1961. The milestone has persisted even through baseball’s “steroid era” in the late 1990s and early 2000, when Performance-enhancing drugs are popular, and other home running records fall left and right. (Prior to this season, the last player to break the AL record was Alex Rodriguez, who hit 57 HR as a Texas Ranger in 2002. Rodriguez later admitted to taking steroids that year.)
In the 61 years since Maris set the record, his mark has been erased six times by three different players. That number includes the all-time single-season record, set by Barry Bonds in 2001.
But all three – Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire – all played in the National League, leaving the record for American League players still open since then.
Judge seems like a candidate to break records since the start of his career, as he hit a homer at his first MLB at-bat and became the first rookie to surpass 50 HR. But he struggled with injury for the next few seasons.
Now, at 30, Judge is having a resurgence: He has more home players, more shots and more RBIs than any previous season, and his 0.314 batting average is highest ever.
Maybe Judge has 26 more trips to break the record. Yankees have seven games left to play before the regular season ends early next month.