Maris' son on Judge's pursuit of 61: 'Dad would be excited'

August 29th, 2022

NEW YORK -- Roger Maris has held the American League single-season home run record since 1961. That year, he hit 61 home runs, breaking Babe Ruth’s hallowed record, and earning the American League MVP Award.

Maris has been in the news lately because Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge has a chance to break Maris’ record. Entering Monday’s action against the Angels, Judge has 49 home runs in the team’s first 128 games. Through the same amount of games in ‘61, Maris had 51 home runs.

At his current pace, Judge would finish the year with 62 homers.

“It’s always nice to see dad brought back in the public eye a little bit for his accolades in baseball,” said Kevin Maris, one of Roger Maris’ six kids. “He accomplished a lot in the game. We couldn’t be more proud in what he accomplished. Sixty-one is a unique number.”

Kevin Maris has nothing but praise for Judge. He called the 30-year-old slugger an outstanding ballplayer who represents the Yankees well. Kevin is also glad that it is a Yankee who is challenging his father’s record.

At the same time, Kevin would like to see his father hold on to the record.

“But [the family] would be excited for [Judge if] he is able to achieve [the] monumental task,” Kevin added. “It’s something that is a unique record, one of the best in sports. Hitting a baseball is not easy. To accomplish that, you have done it over a season, not just one game or one at-bat.”

Judge, like Maris, is a right fielder who appears in center field on occasion. And fittingly, this pursuit by Judge comes 61 years after Maris faced immense pressure while he challenged an icon in Ruth.

“The pressure that dad had day-in and day-out -- New York had a ton of papers back in the day,” Kevin said. “Dad would sit there for hours pinned up in his locker, just giving answers to reporters. They would ask him the same questions day-in and day-out.

“Back then, they didn’t police it like they do now. Nowadays, they give the players about 10 minutes to unwind after the game. Dad didn’t have that luxury. Questions day-in and day-out, they wear on you at some point.”

So how does Kevin think his dad would react to seeing Judge challenge his record if he were alive today?

“Dad would be excited to know the caliber of kid he is, the type of player he has been, how he represents himself on and off the field,” Kevin Maris said. “You don’t have many complete players these days. It’s refreshing to see the humble side.”