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Roger Maris Jr. has traveled to New York and Toronto and watched the Yankees for the past nine days to finally see Aaron Judge tie his father’s American League single-season home run record at 61 home runs.
But this isn’t the first time Maris has done so. He watched as Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds busted past 61 home runs between 1998-2001.
However, Bonds, Sosa and McGwire are all tainted by the steroid cloud that hangs over them. McGwire admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, but Sosa and Bonds never did, though they have been accused of doing so.
That’s why Maris said to 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 stand alone as the most single-season home runs ever.
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“I think it means a lot, not just for me, I think it means a lot for 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 somebody who should be revered for hitting 62 home runs and not just as a guy who did it in the American League. He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ. 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 the records and I think baseball should do something.”
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Maris has shared his opinion on the matter in the past as well, but MLB hasn’t expunged their record books of Bonds’ 73 home runs in 2001, as it still stands to be the number to beat in the regular season. All three players, though, haven’t been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
But what Maris explained is exactly why Judge is being put under a microscope now. Not only is he having an MVP-caliber season, as he also chases the Triple Crown, he’s doing so without the use of performance-enhancing drugs. And Maris believes that is more impressive than what he’s already seen done to his father’s record.
Maris got to meet and talk with Judge for the first time Thursday night despite being there with his mother this week in Toronto to look on during his at-bats. He said he didn’t want to be a “distraction,” and wanted to make sure Judge tied his father before he got to meet him.
“I asked him why he waited so long to kinda make me travel around the country,” he said. “The ironic thing was it was the ninth day I’ve been here [watching Judge]. He wears 99, dad wears 9. This is kinda weird how it all went together. Now we’ll probably go to Yankee Stadium and hit 62 on Oct. 1 when dad hit his 61st.”
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Maris believes the AL East title celebration the Yankees had after Tuesday’s victory was what Judge needed to snap his seven-game homer slump, and now that 61 is on his stat sheet, he’s confident the next will come at some point this weekend in the Bronx.
“You can tell he’s back and he’s ready to go now,” he said.
Judge’s homer came in the top of the seventh inning off Tim Mayza on a 3-2 count, a bullet that got over the left field fence in under four seconds.
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The ball landed in the Blue Jays’ bullpen and was returned to the Yankees for safe keeping. Judge ended up giving the ball to his mother after the game.