No. 99 hits No. 61 and gave the ball to his No. 1 fan.
New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge etched his name in the history books Sept. 28 when he hit his 61st home run of the season during his team’s 8-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, tying him with the late Roger Maris for most home runs hit in a season in American League history. Maris also hit 61 for the Yankees in 1961.
Judge, whose two-run blast snapped a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning, got the ball back and promptly gave it to his mother, Patty, who was at the game at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, along with Roger Maris Jr. After Judge’s shot, his mother and Maris shared a hug.
“Having my mom here, it’s important,” Judge told reporters after the game.
“She’s been with me through it all, that’s for sure. From the Little League days, from getting me ready for school, taking me to my first couple of practices and games, being there my first professional game, being there at my debut and now getting the chance to be here for this, this is something special.”
The judge also said he understood the enormity of his accomplishment.
“It’s an incredible honor,” he said. “And getting a chance to be associated with one of the Yankee greats, one of baseball’s greats, be enshrined with him forever is … words can’t describe it.”
Judge, who had gone more than a week since he blasted his 60th home run, now has seven games left in the regular season to pass Maris. Only Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa have hit more home runs in a season than Judge, but many baseball fans feel their numbers are tainted due to allegations of steroid use.
Judge’s historic season isn’t limited to home runs, either. He has a chance to win the Triple Crown, leading the American League in home runs, RBIs and batting average. The rare feat hasn’t been accomplished since 2012 by Detroit Tigers star Miguel Cabrera. Prior to that, it hadn’t happened since Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox did it in 1967. The last Yankee to win the Triple Crown was Mickey Mantle in 1956.