MLB

'It's a big relief' - Judge blown away after surpassing Maris' AL record with 62nd home run

By Sports Desk October 04, 2022

History-maker Aaron Judge admits finally breaking Roger Maris' American League single-season home run record is a "big relief" after launching his 62nd blast against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.

Judge's lead-off homer for the New York Yankees surpassed Maris' 61-year record, having matched the mark last Wednesday, going five games without a homer leading up.

The Yankees outfielder's 62nd home run for the season came in their penultimate regular season game, putting him seventh all-time for homers in a single season.

Judge had already exceeded Babe Ruth's mark from 1927 of 60 home runs in a season, before getting past Maris with 61 from 1961.

"It's a big relief," Judge said. "I think that everyone can sit back down in their seats and watch the ball game, you know? But it's been a fun ride so far.

"Getting a chance to do this, with the team we've got, the guys surrounding me, the constant support from my family whose been with me through this whole thing, it's been a great honor.

"Getting a chance to have my name next to someone as great as Roger Maris, Babe Ruth, those guys, is incredible."

Judge's pursuit of his 62nd home run has felt like a circus with the anticipation surrounding him every time he was at bat, from both the dugout and the stands.

The outfielder's teammates gathered at the home plate after his historic home run to congratulate him, before receiving a standing ovation from the Texas crowd.

"Pretty surreal," Judge said. "Just like in Toronto, it was pretty awesome, having their support. I think, in Texas, they were a little more excited, they could finally exhale.

"At home, in the dugout, I can see right in and see all the guys sitting at the top steps. Here on the road, they are behind me, so I didn't see the 40-plus people sitting in the dugout.

"To finally see them run out on the field, and get a chance to hug them all, that's what it's about for me."

Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole, who made his own history with a franchise record 257th strikeout in a single season, was glowing in praise of Judge.

"Even just to tie the record, let alone break it is a bit surreal," Cole said. "And obviously, on a night like tonight, it's just like, 'Woah'… It's hard to put into words."

Judge has hit the most home runs in a single season of any center fielder in MLB history, previously 56 held by Hack Wilson (1930) and Ken Griffey Jr (1997 and 1998).

The Yankee's latest blast means he is 16 homers ahead of the MLB's next best, Kyle Schwarber with 46. Judge's 16-homer lead is the largest since Jimmie Foxx's 17-homer margin over Ruth from 1932.

Judge's 62 home runs have totaled a distance of 25,520 feet which is nearly five miles, and a single-season record since Statcast started tracking that in 2015, exceeding teammate Giancarlo Stanton's 2017 mark of 24,641 feet.

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    Now aged 35, Messi has already accepted this will be his final chance to lift the most famous trophy of them all, a little over a year on from helping La Albiceleste end their 28-year wait for a major title with Copa America success.

    Ahead of the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner's milestone match, Stats Perform looks at the numbers behind his previous 999 appearances for club and country – and why the next two weeks could yet define his career.

    Barca Breakthrough

    October 16, 2004. It would not be hyperbolic to suggest this was a day that football as we know it changed, with a 17-year-old Messi replacing Deco from the substitutes' bench in Barcelona's 1-0 win over city rivals Espanyol.

    In a sign of the mini maestro's longevity, he has since played alongside two players born after his Barcelona debut – Warren Zaire-Emery and El Chadaille Bitshiabu, born in March 2006 and May 2005 respectively.

    Both teenagers are on Paris Saint-Germain's books, where Messi is now plying his trade after ending his two-decade association with Barcelona in emotional circumstances in August 2021.

    Unsurprisingly, the majority of Messi's career appearances came during his 17 seasons at Camp Nou. He featured 778 times for Barca, scoring a staggering 672 goals and assisting 265, which amounts to 937 direct-goal involvements.

    He made more appearances against Real Madrid than any other opponent, playing 47 times against Barca's fiercest rivals.

    Good times under Guardiola

    Barcelona's inability to offer Messi a new contract due to their dire financial situation allowed PSG to pounce. After an underwhelming first campaign in Paris, the superstar forward has found his form this term.

    Messi has featured 53 times for the Parisians to date and has scored (23) and assisted (28) a combined 51 goals – just short of one goal involvement every match on average.

    He has already had two different managers at the Parc des Princes, with Christophe Galtier having replaced Mauricio Pochettino in the hot seat. That takes the number of head coaches Messi has worked under to 19.

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    His career 2.52 ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall-of-Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

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    "We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that," Young said. "And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob's caliber."

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