New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge scores his 62nd home run of the year Tuesday night in Texas, making him the best baseball player in one season — outside of MLB’s infamous steroid era.
Judge’s record hit came in the first inning, off Rangers-pitcher Jesus Tinoco in the nightcap of a doubleheader on Globe Life Field in Arlington.
The Yankees outfielder drove a 90mph slider over the left field wall, where the ball was caught by a fan who came out with his glove ready for the game.
The blast came from Judge’s bat traveling at 100.2 mph and was measured at 391 feet.
The Yankees poured out of their dugout as soon as Judge hit home plate to celebrate his milestone, breaking a tie with Roger Maris, who hit 61 shots in 1961, for most hits in a single American League season.
Judge had one more at bat and took his place in right field in the bottom of the second inning. At that point, Yankees manager Aaron Boone removed him from the game, allowing him to call a curtain again.
Judge, a 30-year-old Linden, native of California, had equated Maris’s record with a Toronto sightseeing flight on Wednesday. He now ranks seventh alone for most home runs in a season.
But Judge’s achievement can only be a record in the hearts and minds of purist baseball fans.
All of Judge’s record holders are National League sluggers who wreaked havoc in the late ’90s and early 2000s, when it was widely believed that some of the best hitters and pitchers were taking performance-enhancing drugs.
MLB did not suspend players for steroid use until 2005. At that time, Maris’ score of 61 had been surpassed six times in just four seasons (1998-2001) by Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa, San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds and St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire.
The MLB record books will show Bonds the . is best single season and career long-ball hitter in baseball history of 73 home runs in 2001 and his career total of 762 shots.
But more than a handful of fans will now argue that Judge, and formerly Maris, should be the best baseball players in one season, because their achievements were outside of the steroid era, that was recorded in a 2007 report by means of former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.
Baseball historian and author Marty Appel said fans could reasonably argue that Judge’s 62-plus home runs are this season’s most remarkable achievement.
“I think a majority of fans would recognize that something that is done not in the steroids age as we are experiencing now with Aaron Judge would be more legitimate,” said Appel, a former Yankees manager.
“But it’s one of those things left over from the steroid era, we’re left to our own minds to decide what qualifies as a record and what doesn’t. It’s really going to be up to each individual (fan) to decide.” determine what they recognize – which is a shame, because baseball has always been by the book and by the numbers.”