During the magical summer of 1961, fans rushed to grab copies of New York’s daily tabloids, most of which printed a running game-by-game comparison between three great Yankees sluggers -- Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle -- going head-to-head in pursuit of Babe Ruth’s 1927 home run total.
As we know, Maris slugged 61 home runs to eclipse Ruth’s single-season record of 60, though there was controversy -- Maris needed more than 154 games, the length of schedule in 1927, to achieve the feat. Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds later passed Maris, but 61 still stands as the franchise mark.
“With him, anything’s possible,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “That is obviously an enormous number to get to. We’ve got a long way to go there, but I won’t put a cap on anything he could do.”
Judge belted his Major League-leading 22nd home run in Tuesday’s 10-4 victory over the Twins at Target Field. Home runs aren’t everything, but if you’re looking for evidence that Judge should be the American League’s MVP frontrunner, consider this: Judge is on pace with Ruth, and ahead of Mantle and Maris.
Through the Yanks’ first 56 games of 1927, Ruth had belted 22 homers. Maris hit his 21st in the Yanks’ 56th game, a 7-2 loss at Cleveland, while Mantle had 18.
“That’s tough to describe, especially guys like that,” Judge said. “It’s an honor, anytime you’ve got Yankees legends like that -- to get a chance to be mentioned in the same category as them, the same sentence as them, it’s quite an honor. But I’m not trying to be Maris; I’m not trying to be Ruth. I’m just trying to be the best Aaron Judge I can be.”