New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge broke Roger Maris’ single-season American League home run record, hitting his 62nd blast of the year in a game Tuesday against the Texas Rangers.
Judge connected for the record home run off Rangers starting pitcher Jesus Tinoco in the first inning of the second game of a double header in Arlington, Texas.
The Yankees’ leadoff hitter launched the third pitch of his first at-bat against Tinoco into the seats in left field. A fan was seen either jumping or falling over the left-field wall nearby, disappearing behind the fence.
“I had a good feeling off the bat,” Judge told reporters at a postgame news conference. “I just didn’t know where it was going to land or what it was going to hit.”
Judge said it was a big relief to finally hit the record-breaking blow.
“It’s been a fun ride so far, you know, getting a chance to do this,” he added. “The team we got, the guys surrounding me and the constant support from my family who have been with me there through this whole thing. It’s been a great honor.”
He said he never tried to focus on trying to hit a record home run. He just wanted to play his game.
“If I’m good enough and God willing, it will happen,” he said.
A fan who caught the historic ball was escorted from the section of seats by security, according to reporters at the game.
The fan told CNN affiliate WFAA he hadn’t yet thought about what he’d do with the ball.
Judge said he’d like to have the ball but he understands if the fan keeps or sells it. Some observers think the ball is now worth millions of dollars.
“We’ll see what happens with that. It’d be great to get it back,” Judge said. “But that’s a souvenir for a fan. They made a great catch out there and they have every right to it.”
Yankees players streamed out of the dugout to enthusiastically greet their teammate when he touched home plate.
Judge, 30, had tied Maris last Wednesday with a line-drive homer in the top of the seventh inning off Toronto Blue Jays’ pitcher Tim Mayza.
Judge struck out in the second inning Tuesday and in the bottom of half of the inning, Yankees manager Aaron Boone took him out of the game to raucous cheers from the crowd at Globe Life Field.
Maris hit 61 home runs 61 years ago in 1961, breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 60 set in 1927.
Judge thanked the Maris family, some of whom attended previous games when Judge was trying to tie the mark.
“It’s a tough situation (for them). Your dad’s legacy, you want to uphold that, but getting a chance to meet their family, they’re wonderful people,” he said. “And getting a chance to have my name next to someone as great as Roger Maris, Babe Ruth and those guys is incredible.”
Barry Bonds set the major league record with 73 home runs in 2001.
The other two players to hit more home runs than Judge in a season are Mark McGwire (who did so twice) and Sammy Sosa (three times).
It is unclear whether Judge will play Wednesday in the final game of the regular season, but he has an outside chance of winning the American League triple crown (leading the circuit in batting average, runs batted in and home runs).
Judge is first in home runs and RBIs, but trails Minnesota Twins star Luis Arráez in batting average.
He said he wants to play but it will be up to Boone, who has to get his team ready for the playoffs.
Home run records are not new to Judge. He also holds the American League record for rookies with 52 in 2017. While that was the major league mark at the time, Pete Alonso of the New York Mets hit 53 as a rookie in 2019.