SAN DIEGO -- Like much of the baseball world, Mark McGwire found himself glued to Aaron Judge's at-bats over the past few weeks. Never mind that it was McGwire's 30-year-old rookie home run record that the Yankees phenom had in his sights. The former slugger and current Padres bench coach
SAN DIEGO -- Like much of the baseball world, Mark McGwire found himself glued to Aaron Judge's at-bats over the past few weeks. Never mind that it was McGwire's 30-year-old rookie home run record that the Yankees phenom had in his sights. The former slugger and current Padres bench coach was pulling for Judge, just the same.
On Monday, Judge launched his 49th and 50th home runs in the Yankees' 11-3 win over Kansas City, tying and passing McGwire's record.
Across the country, McGwire tuned in live for Judge's first home run. Then, he followed on MLB.com's At Bat App on his way to Dodger Stadium while Judge made history. Afterward, McGwire reached out to Matthew Holliday, who passed along contact information for the Yankees rookie. McGwire left a message, "just to congratulate him on a great season."
"I couldn't be happier for him," said McGwire. "The future for him as a bona fide home run hitter is bright. Who knows what the number is going to be. Watch out 73. Seriously."
McGwire, of course, was alluding to the single-season record set by Barry Bonds in 2001. And if anyone knows about shattering home run marks, it's McGwire.
He was quick to note the symmetry of Judge breaking his record following a 30 year wait. After all, McGwire broke Frank Robinson's record in 1987, when it had stood for 31 years.
"The bar was set high at 49, and he's just made it look easy with 50," said McGwire. "I couldn't be happier for him. Maybe it's another 30-plus years before someone else breaks it."
There are a some notable parallels between Judge's current campaign and McGwire's 1987 season. Both made their big league debuts a season earlier -- McGwire in 1986 as an A's third baseman. Both struggled initially, yet used the experience to put forth brilliant rookie numbers in the following year.
Of course, Judge isn't the only youngster putting forth impressive power totals this year. The Dodgers' Cody Bellinger set the National League record with 39 homers. Philadelphia's Rhys Hoskins has already gone deep 18 times in his first 44 games.
"It's a new generation of young kids coming up that are just unbelievable," McGwire said. "You've got Bellinger over here with the Dodgers, [Hoskins], [Mike] Trout, [Bryce] Harper, [Manny] Machado.
"The home run is back. It's awesome. People love seeing home runs. They love seeing the power pitcher and the power hitter. And it couldn't be any better for the game."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.