Aaron Judge needed some time to absorb the magnitude of his record-setting 62nd home run late on Tuesday evening, having received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd at Globe Life Field as he jogged in from his position in right field. In a quiet corner of the visiting clubhouse, the Yankees star collected his thoughts.
Judge had passed Roger Maris, crushing a first-inning blast into the left-field seats, to secure his place as the American League’s single-season all-time home run king. As Judge gazed into an ocean of cameras and microphones, the probable AL Most Valuable Player was asked what he would remember most from this frenzied home run chase.
“The fans,” Judge replied. “The fans at home, the fans on the road. The constant support; seeing Yankee Stadium on their feet for every single at-bat. They were booing pitchers for throwing balls, which I’ve never seen before. I think I got a base hit the other night, and I was getting booed for a single. It’s just little moments like that you look back on.”
There had been opportunities for Judge to surpass Maris in the Bronx; after slugging his 60th homer on Sept. 20 against the Pirates, Judge went homerless until Sept. 28 against the Blue Jays in Toronto, when he equaled Maris with No. 61. Judge was kept in the ballpark by the Orioles over a three-game series from Oct. 1-3 at Yankee Stadium, cementing the fact that if he were to pass Maris, it would have to take place in Texas.
“It would have been great to do it in Yankee Stadium in front of our home fans,” Judge said. “But I know a lot of Yankees fans; they travel well. There were a lot of Yankees fans here [Tuesday], and I got a chance to share that experience with the fans.”
After looking at a ball and a strike, Judge unloaded on an 88.4 mph offering from Rangers right-hander Jesus Tinoco, slugging a Statcast-projected 391-foot drive toward the left-field seats. The ball, marked with “C 13” for authentication purposes, was secured by Cory Youmans, a fan seated in Section 31, Row 1, Seat 3.
“I had a good feeling off the bat,” Judge said. “I just didn’t know where it was going to land or what it was going to hit. There was a good sense of relief once I saw it in that fan’s glove.”
As Judge trotted around the bases, the Yankees spilled out of their dugout, many hurdling over a low fence in front of the seating area. Judge grinned broadly as he made the hard left turn at third base, pointing to the sky and stamping his left foot on home plate before embracing each teammate in sight.
“It was pretty surreal,” Judge said. “At home, if I look up, I look right into our dugout, so I could see all the guys sitting there at the top step of the dugout waiting for this to happen. On the road, they were behind me, so I didn’t see the 40-plus people sitting in the dugout.
“Finally seeing them on the field and getting a chance to hug them all or have them say congratulations, that’s what it’s about for me. Those guys are grinding with me every single day, and they’ve been along this journey through the ups and downs. Getting a chance to share that moment on the field was pretty special, that’s for sure.”