All in the Family: Aaron Judge Reaches Home Run Glory

As the 2022 MLB season comes to a close, it’s been a dramatic race to the finish as several teams secured a position in the postseason. But there’s another exciting storyline everyone has been focused on. New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’s single-season American League home run record of 61 on September 28, 2022, and broke the record with his 62nd on October 4. Many baseball fans believe he is now the legitimate record holder, keeping it in the Yankees organization. 

Judge was selected by the New York Yankees out of Fresno State with the 32nd pick in the first round of the 2013 MLB draft. He immediately became a star in pinstripes, playing a high-profile position as an outfielder for one of the most famous teams in America. After a phenomenal rookie campaign, subsequent years were marred by injuries, and in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shut baseball down for nearly half the season. In 2022, the Yankees got on track early, going 26-9 for one of the best 35-game starts in franchise history. The conversation started swirling during the summer as Judge’s home run count was similar to that of Ruth and Maris. His best stretch came between April and June, with 25 home runs batting .296/.359/.635 over the team’s dominant stretch. 

It seems the entire baseball world was pulling for Judge. This included the Maris family and Roger’s son, Roger Maris Jr., who was delighted by the prospect of  Judge besting his father’s record. Maris Jr. has been attending Yankees games, interacting with the Judge family, and met Aaron himself for the first time after home run No. 61 in Toronto. 

Maris. Jr has been outspoken about his view that Judge is the only legitimate record holder. He told reporters that No. 99 “should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ.” This has caused some controversy in baseball as three former players have broken Maris’s record: Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds.

At 73 home runs, Bonds is the official home run king, according to Major League Baseball and every baseball reference. However, many feel these records are tainted due to the “steroid era” when players were using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) to assist their play. McGwire tearfully admitted using PEDs during a 2010 interview. Bonds was convicted of charges unrelated to actual drug use and has always denied the allegations. 

Roger Maris represents a simpler time in baseball, not complicated by drugs and troubling off-the-field issues. In those days, controversies centered around the game, such as the infamous “asterisk.” When Babe Ruth set his home run record of 60 home runs in 1927, MLB had a 154-game season. That changed in 1960 to 162 games, so when Maris broke the record, many felt there should be a caveat or a notation because it was not an equal amount of games played.

It’s been easy to root for the likable Judge, who is a private person and has remained humble throughout his career, much like Maris. Because of this, baseball fans have been eager for Judge to break the record and keep it “in the family.” From Ruth to Maris to Judge, this record has spanned nearly a century of Major League Baseball. The numbers 9 and 99 are now forever connected in baseball history.