Aaron Judge Ties The Babe With 60th Homer, On Verge Of Passing Roger Maris

Should he be regarded as all-time leader because Bonds, McGuire and Sosa reputedly used performance-enhancing drugs?
J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday RM via Getty Images

New York Yankees star Aaron Judge, rewriting the baseball record book, tied the legendary Babe Ruth’s American League home run record which he set in 1927 before Yankees star Roger Maris eclipsed it in 1961, slugging his 60th home run of the season.


Judge’s solo blast came in the ninth inning as his Yankees trailed the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-4; exhilarating Yankees fans, who became delirious minutes later when Giancarlo Stanton slammed a grand-slam walk off homer to win the game.


“I don’t think about the numbers,” Judge said after the game “When you talk about Ruth and Maris and Mantle and all these Yankees greats that did so many great things in this game, you never imagine as a kid being mentioned with them. It’s an incredible honor. It’s something I don’t take lightly at all.”

“I’m trying to enjoy it all, soak it all in, but I know I still have a job to do out on the field every single day and I just have to keep my head down, keep preparing and stay mentally focused,” he added.

Judge’s blast came in the 147th game of the 162 game season. Ruth hit his 60 homers on the team largely regarded as the greatest of all time in the 154 game season. Maris hit 59 by the time his season had reached 154 games. He hit his 60th in the 15th game and his 61st in the 162rd game.

The Yankees actually played 163 games that year, but one ended in a tie and had to be made up later.

Baseball commissioner Ford Frick, who had served as Ruth’s ghost writer in the 1920s,  announced in mid-season 1961, when Maris had 35 homers, “If the player does not hit more than 60 until after the club has played 154 games, there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule and the total of more than 60 was compiled while a 162-game schedule was in effect.”

Thus when Maris needed eight more games to break Ruth’s record, sportswriters doomed Maris’ record to be adorned with an asterisk in the baseball record book.

Yet Maris had a grand total of seven more late appearances than Ruth, making their seasons almost identical. And Maris’ 59th and 60th homers were hit when he had had less plate appearances than Ruth, as SABR reported.

On the other hand, Maris’ record came in the first year of expansion, when two teams were added in each league.

Maris’ record was broken later in the National League by Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998, who hit 70, (McGuire also hit 65 in 1999) and by the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa in 1998 and 1999 (66 and 63, respectively) before Barry Bond of the San Francisco Giants slugged 73 in 2001, the only season he surpassed 50.

But all three men have been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, as opposed to Maris, who justifiably could still claim to be the record holder if viewed on the up and up. That would make the ascension of Judge, who is virtually certain to break Maris’ record if he stays healthy, effectively the all-time record holder.

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