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Aaron Judge hits his 62nd home run to break Roger Maris’s record

Judge now becomes the only “clean player” to hit 62 home runs in one season.

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 4: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees hits his 62nd home run of the season against the Texas Rangers during the first inning in game two of a double header at Globe Life Field on October 4, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. Judge has now set the American League record for home runs in a single season.   Ron Jenkins/Getty Images/AFP
Ron JenkinsAFP

This Tuesday night, Aaron Judge smashed home run number 62 of the season, setting the new American League record and what some fans consider to be the “clean standard” in baseball.

Leading off the second game of New York’s day-night doubleheader, the 30-year-old Yankees slugger smashed a 1-1 slider from Texas right-hander Jess Tinoco into the first few rows of seats in left center.

Maris’ 61 in 1961 had been surpassed six times before, but each time the accomplishment was marred by the use of steroids. In 1998, Mark McGwire blasted 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals. The following year, he hit 65. A record 73 home runs was set by Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants in 2001, and Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs hit 66, 65, and 63 over four years beginning in 1998.

While Bonds and Sosa have both denied using performance-enhancing drugs, McGwire has come clean about using the banned steroid. Even though PED testing and punishment began in MLB in 2004, many fans may still claim Maris as the record holder.

Chasing home run 62 and breaking a record

Before last Wednesday in Toronto, Judge hadn’t hit a home run in any of his previous 13 games. On the nightcap of the Texas doubleheader, he played his 55th consecutive game since August 5.

Judge hit a single in his first five at-bats on Tuesday, but since then, he has gone 3 for 17 with five walks and a hit by a pitch as he chased down and surpassed the major league record of 60 home runs set by Babe Ruth in 1927. On October 1, 1961, Maris hit home run number 61 against Tracy Stallard of the Boston Red Sox at old Yankee Stadium.

The last player to win the AL Triple Crown was Miguel Cabrera of Detroit in 2012. Judge has a chance to become the first player to do so since then. In the batting race, he started the day behind Minnesota’s Luis Arraez (.315) but eventually overtook him and took over the AL lead with 131 RBIs.

He hit a home run in his first at-bat, restoring his batting average to.311 after dropping a point in the day’s first game.