Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mike Lupica: Aaron Judge evokes memory of Babe Ruth as he finally catches Roger Maris with homer No. 61

So now all the home run magic that had begun over 100 years ago with Babe Ruth, that had once run through the magical home run summer of 1961 with Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, had found its way to the Rogers Centre in Toronto because of Aaron Judge. Ruth had hit 60 and Maris had come along much later to hit 61. Now Aaron Judge had gotten to 61, because the ball he’d just hit off a Toronto reliever named Tim Mayza was out of the Rogers Centre and into Yankee history and into baseball history.

Roger Maris Jr. hugged Judge’s mother in the first row of the stands then, in this moment when we all felt as if we had a front row seat to history, rose up to celebrate the season All Rise Judge is having.

It had taken Maris 34 years to catch The Babe and pass him, to get to 60 and then to 61 in ‘61. It had taken so much more time for somebody to catch Maris the way Judge finally did on Wednesday night. But this is a ballplayer, because of his size and because of the size of his accomplishments — even because of the size of that number 99 — who truly evokes the memory and size of Ruth, who towered above baseball once he got to New York and the Yankees the way Judge has towered over baseball in 2022.

There had been some discussion on Tuesday night as the Yankees were celebrating their American League East division title about whether Judge would sit or play this game in Toronto, that maybe he needed a night off to regroup before the Yankees came back to Yankee Stadium to play the Orioles.

“I want to play,” Judge told Aaron Boone, his manager. “Let’s go.”

Judge played on Wednesday night. He walked his first time up, after all the times he had walked since No. 60 at the Stadium last week against the Pirates. Finally Judge was up in the seventh inning against Mayza, who is 8-0 for the Blue Jays this season. Judge fouled a couple of balls off late in the count, he stepped out of the box and walked around, something he rarely does. Usually he gets into the batter’s box and stays in the box, until another ball leaves another ballpark.

Then the ball he hit off Mayza was out of the Rogers Centre in a blink in the top of the seventh, on the eighth pitch of this at-bat, and now Aaron Judge had hit as many as Maris; had hit more home runs than any American League hitter ever had; was still in line to win a Triple Crown the way Mantle once had, all the way back in 1956. Mantle was the face of the Yankees for so long. Now Judge is the face of the Yankees, and the face of baseball.

He hit No. 61 in Toronto and a visiting crowd rose up now for All Rise Judge and his teammates embraced him one after another after he had touched home plate. His mother blew him a kiss. Roger Maris’ son pointed at him and smiled. So this was about Patty Judge’s son and Maris’ father, and about The Babe, and about the Yankees. It was about this great baseball night and great sports night in Toronto, and it was very much about the past. Judge connected all of that with one swing of the bat.

It wasn’t like this when Maris got to 61 on the last day of the regular season in ‘61, in a world when only 23,000-plus had shown up to see him pass Ruth, making his own historic swing against Tracy Stallard and the Red Sox as Phil Rizzuto “Holy Cow”-ed the ball into the right field seats at the old Stadium, and into the hands of a fan named Sal Durante.

What Judge does, and keeps doing, happens in the modern world of sports and the modern world of baseball. It happens in a world where everybody can watch every pitch and every swing, on television and on their phones and on their laptops; where we all felt over the last week after Judge did get to 60 as if we were hanging on every pitch and every swing and waiting for Judge to make more history of his own.

We were all watching baseball this closely and this passionately because Judge is playing it the way he is playing it and having a season that will be discussed 100 years from now. This was what baseball was like when baseball, and The Babe, ruled the world. It became No. 99′s world over this past week. While everybody waited for him to get to Roger Maris and get to 61 and then keep going from there.

“You just don’t hit ‘em every day,” Boone said the other day. “As long as he gets good swings and quality at-bats, it’ll come sooner or later.”

It came in the seventh inning on Wednesday night against the Blue Jays. It came on that bullet to left field. Judge had hit them everywhere this season, one of the great offensive seasons any Yankee has had, all the way back to Ruth and Lou Gehrig. He made the late summer about him once he became the hottest guy in the world and now had made the early days of autumn about him.

“He has been chasing history and now he’s made it,” Michael Kay said on television.

Now Judge looks to make more history. Now he’s chasing 62. Holy Cow.


Source: Berkshire mont

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    %d bloggers like this: