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Aaron Judge admitted that 61 took him "a little longer than I wanted to," but no matter the case, he tied Roger Maris for the American League record for most home runs in a single season.
Some may argue that because of steroid-links to Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa, all of whom surpassed Maris between 1998-2001, Judge tied the true all-time record.
On the flip side, Judge has said that Bonds' "73 (from 2001) is the record." but he certainly is not taking this number for granted, and said it's "a moment I definitely will never forget."
"It's an incredible honor," Judge told the YES Network after the Yankees' 8-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. "There was a lot of emotions. It took me a little longer than I wanted to. But getting a chance to get two runs on the board, help out Gerrit [Cole] get another win, this is something pretty special."
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Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees tips his hat towards his mother after hitting his 61st home run of the season in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on September 28, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Judge has now tied Roger Maris for the American League record. (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
"Getting the chance to be associated with one of the Yankees' greats, one of baseball's greats, be enshrined with him forever, words can't describe it," he added in a postgame press conference.
Of course, Judge can't help but mention the team. He's the de facto captain of the greatest sports franchise in the world, and has been team-first since his MLB debut on Aug. 13, 2016.
Judge's teammates all came out of the dugout to give the slugger a standing ovation, something even he was taken aback by.
Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees is congratulated by teammates after hitting his 61st home run of the season in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Sept. 28, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Judge has now tied Roger Maris for the American League record. (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
AARON JUDGE’S 62ND HOME RUN BALL WILL BE MORE VALUABLE THAN ALBERT PUJOLS’ 700TH, MEMORABILIA EXPERT SAYS
"That was pretty cool. I wasn't expecting it," Judge said. "You never know what's going to happen, what the guys are going to do, but seeing the love from my teammates who I show up to work every single day, I do what I do for them. Being able to share that moment with them and do it up here in a win, it's tough to describe right now."
Judge's seven game homerless streak was his second-longest of the season, but in that process, he continued to be disciplined at the plate, walking 13 times in that stretch – including four on Tuesday.
He admitted that there was "definitely some relief" when the ball went out.
"You try not to think about it, but it creeps into your head," he said.
But at the end of the day, the pressure is a privilege for him.
"I'm playing a kid's game. I love this. I love these moments. Especially a moment like that where it's a 3-3 game, you got a chance to get a guy in scoring position or drive a guy in, those are the moments you live for," Judge said. "So I was just trying to soak it in and just go out there and do my job."
Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees runs the bases as he hits his 61st home run of the season in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Sept. 28, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Cole Burston/Getty Images)
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Judge has seven games to break Maris's record - three at home against the Baltimore Orioles, and four in Texas against the Rangers.