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Roger Maris Jr. traveled to New York and Toronto and watched the Yankees over the past nine days to finally see Aaron Judge equal his father’s American League single-season home run record of 61 homers.
But this isn’t the first time Maris has done it. It saw Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds hit 61 homers between 1998 and 2001.
However, Bonds, Sosa and McGwire are all tainted by the cloud of steroids hanging over them. McGwire admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, but Sosa and Bonds never did, despite being accused of doing so.
That’s why Maris told reporters after the Yankees’ 8-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays that if Judge hits 62 home runs by the end of the regular season, his record should be the most home runs. in a single season all time.
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“I think it means a lot, not just to me, I think it means a lot to a lot of people,” he explained. “He’s clean, he’s a Yankee, he plays the game the right way. I think it gives people a chance to look at someone who should be revered for hitting 62 homers and not just as a guy who did it in the American League. He should be revered for being the true one-season home run champion. That’s really who he is if he hits 62 and I think that’s what needs to happen. I think baseball needs to look at records and I think baseball should do something.”
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Maris has also shared his thoughts on the matter in the past, but MLB didn’t erase its record book of 73 Bonds homers in 2001 because he’s still the number to break in the regular season. All three players, however, were not inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
But what Maris explained is exactly why Judge is now being put under a microscope. Not only is he having an MVP-caliber season because he’s also chasing the Triple Crown, but he’s doing it without using performance-enhancing drugs. And Maris thinks that’s more impressive than what he’s ever seen done on his father’s file.
Maris was able to meet and speak with Judge for the first time on Thursday night despite the fact that he was there with his mother this week in Toronto to watch during his at-bats. He said he didn’t want to be a “distraction” and wanted to make sure Judge tied up his dad before he met him.
“I asked him why he waited so long to take me across the country,” he said. “The ironic thing is that it was the ninth day I’ve been here [watching Judge]. He wears 99, dad wears 9. It’s kind of weird how it all happened together. Now we’ll probably go to Yankee Stadium and hit 62 on October 1 when dad hit his 61st.”
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Maris thinks the AL East title celebration the Yankees had after Tuesday’s victory was what Judge needed to break his seven-game home slump, and now that 61 is on his stat sheet, he’s confident that the next one will come sometime this weekend in the Bronx.
“You can tell he’s back and he’s ready to go now,” he said.
The judge’s homer came in the top of the seventh inning against Tim Mayza on a 3-2 count, a ball that went over the left field fence in less than four seconds.
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The ball landed in the Blue Jays bullpen and was returned to the Yankees for safekeeping. The judge ended up giving the ball to his mother after the game.